Minister of Health, Atupele Muluzi has said the country has made tremendous strides and registered notable successes in most Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services according to the last three Demographic and Health Surveys.
The Minister said this Monday in Lilongwe when he launched the second series of Child Health Days for 2017 which runs from December 4 to 8, 2017 throughout the country.
He said Maternal neonatal and Child Health services include immunizations, antenatal and post-natal care, family planning, vitamin A supplements and therapeutic supplementary feeding.
Muluzi said currently, 91 per cent of births occur in health facilities and 90 per cent of all these deliveries are attended by skilled health professionals.
“Recent Demographic and Health surveys show that our infant mortality rate is down to 42 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality is down to 64 per 1,000 live births.
“Stunting has reduced from 47 per cent in 2010 to 37 per cent in 2016, anaemia among the under-fives has reduced from 55 per cent in 2009 to 28 per cent in 2017,” said Muluzi.
The minister further said there is an increase in the number of children admitted to our therapeutic programme from 34,500 in 2015 to 53,000 in 2016 following a more efficient referral system.
Muluzi pointed out that the referral system has seen better community level engagement and Mass Screening.
“This success has translated into a remarkable improvement in morbidity and mortality patterns, especially from preventable diseases and conditions,” he added.
Muluzi noted that despite successes in uptake of vitamin A supplements, there is need to reach almost half of the under-fives in the country’s population, particularly those who are living in hard-to-reach locations or from certain ethnicities.
He explained that the biannual campaigns that his Ministry does in collaboration with partners which include UNICEF, promote child health and development, focusing on hard to reach groups with maternal and child health services.
Muluzi pointed out the initiative has significantly contributed towards the reduction of child illness and death over the years.
He thanked development partners UNICEF, USAID, WHO and World Vision as well as District partners for their support to this project together with the programme managers, DHOs, traditional authorities for their hard work in managing implementation.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Malawi, Johannes Wedenig, said his organisation appreciates the leadership of the Ministry of Health in addressing nutrition challenges affecting the children of Malawi.
He pointed out that micronutrient deficiency disorders are responsible for the impairment of hundreds of millions of growing minds and lowering of the national intelligence quotient (IQ).
“Micronutrient deficiency disorders are responsible for the wholesale damage to immune systems and the deaths of more than a million children a year worldwide. Vitamin A deficiency is one the micronutrient deficiencies of the most public health importance,” Wedenig pointed out.
Muluzi administered a vitamin A supplement to 3 year old boy, Themba Fusani during the launch.