Thursday, August 27, 2009

Government not doing enough to reduce maternal, infant deaths

By Khanyisa Tabata
27 August 2009

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has admitted that the government is not doing enough to reduce the number of mothers who die during childbirth and the rate of infant mortality.

Motsoaledi said it is clear that they are not doing enough to decrease perinatal and child deaths in our country. Minister Motsoaledi said it was unacceptable that mothers die from avoidable causes.

South Africa is among the 10 countries in the world that have failed dismally in bringing down infant mortality and the country is unlikely to meet this health Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by 2015.

Motsaoaledi has challenged health workers to produce better health outcomes in spite of minimum resources.

Last year, the department launched three national committees to review maternal, perinatal and childhood deaths in South Africa. The principal tasks for the committees were on morbidity and mortality in children under five years of age.

According to a report presented by one of the committees at the summit yesterday, the number of deaths of children under five has increased from 61 percent in 1998 to 70.9 percent in 2007.

The minister said there were a number of social factors, such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of proper housing, lack of access to clean water, inadequate sanitation, which had lead to the proximal causes such as lack of access to good quality health services.

The committee recommended the strengthening of existing health information systems and quality of care by investigating contributing factors as well as strengthening existing child survival programmes and primary health care and emergency treatment and referrals.

The Maternal, Child and Women’s Health Summit is the first ever of its kind, and it aims to obtain consensus on the bottlenecks to meeting the health-related MDGs and to agree on steps to be taken to urgently address the bottlenecks.


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