More women and their children are surviving today than ever before, according to new child and maternal mortality estimates released yesterday by United Nations groups led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since 2000, child deaths have reduced by nearly half and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to improved access to affordable, quality health services.
“In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “This is the power of universal health coverage.”
Still, the new estimates reveal that 6.2 million children under 15 years died in 2018, and over 290 000 women died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Of the total child deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first 5 years, with almost half of these in the first month of life.
Women and newborns are most vulnerable during and immediately after childbirth. An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or 1 every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes, the new estimates say.
Children face the highest risk of dying in the first month, especially if they are born too soon or too small, have complications during birth, congenital defects, or contract infections. About a third of these deaths occur within the first day and nearly three quarters in the first week alone.
“Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death. We must do all it takes to invest in universal health coverage to save these precious lives.”
Vast inequalities worldwide
The estimates also show vast inequalities worldwide, with women and children in sub-Saharan Africa facing a substantially higher risk of death than in all other regions.
Levels of maternal deaths are nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa and their babies are 10 times more likely to die in their first month of life, compared to high-income countries.
In 2018, 1 in 13 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before their fifth birthday– this is 15 times higher than the risk a child faces in Europe, where just 1 in 196 children aged less than 5 die.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa face a 1 in 37 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. By comparison, the lifetime risk for a woman in Europe is 1 in 6500. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for around 80% of global maternal and child deaths. Countries in conflict or humanitarian crisis often have weak health systems that prevent women and children from accessing essential lifesaving care.
Progress linked to universal health coverage
The world has made substantial progress in reducing child and maternal mortality. Since 1990, there has been a 56% reduction in deaths of children under 15 years from 14.2 million deaths to 6.2 million in 2018. Countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia have made the most progress, with an 80% decline in under-five deaths.
And from 2000 to 2017, the maternal mortality ratio declined by 38%. Southern Asia has made the greatest improvements in maternal survival with a nearly 60% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio since 2000.
Belarus, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Morocco, Mongolia, Rwanda, Timor-Leste and Zambia are some of the countries that have shown substantial progress in reducing child or maternal mortality. Success has been due to political will to improve access to quality health care by investing in the health workforce, introducing free care for pregnant women and children and supporting family planning. Many of these countries focus on primary health care and universal health coverage.
Oyo discharges 11 COVID-19 cases at Olodo Infectious Disease Centre
The Oyo State Task Force on COVID-19, on Friday, recorded a major victory in its ongoing fight against the novel Coronavirus when it discharged 11 persons after they tested negative to COVID-19 twice.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, in a statement quoted a member of the Task Force and former Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge, as saying that after the discharge of the 11 cases, the Centre now had 32 patients and that all but one, were in stable condition.
The statement added that of the 11 persons discharged at the Infectious Disease Centre, Olodo, Ibadan, three were females and eight were males.
According to Alonge, eight of the discharged persons were the Northerners who came from Sokoto axis.
He said: “We all must have behind our minds that this novel coronavirus, even though it belongs to a particular family, is not in any way similar to the HIV virus, meaning that it does not reside in you forever as it were. It has a span of time that it stays and your body’s immune system is built up enough to be able to get rid of it and you come back to normal.
“But, of course, if at the time you have a high load of the virus, you happen to have some other co-morbidities or you are under some treatment that reduces your immunity, then you can have a full flare. So, it is not like the HIV virus that you have to use medications to suppress or reduce their effects.
“When patients come down and they are tested as positive, it means the load of the virus is enough to make them feel sickly. When they are in isolation, what we do is to boost their immunity. There are so many regimens in the world that are being tried and used but here, our patients have stuck to a very simple regimen. They all have 500mg of azithromycin daily for three days. They also have zinc on a daily basis. 2gram of Vitamin C, Chloroquine 500mg and 250mg for another three days.
“We are privileged to have linked up with our colleagues in UCH, who have been exceptionally wonderful. So, we are not only looking at their symptoms but also the viral load and their CT. But the value of the CT is also in correlation with the value of the viral load. The higher the viral load, the lower the CT value.”
The ex-CMD maintained that there were now 32 active patients at the Infectious Disease Centre, noting that all of them except one were in stable condition.
“We have 32 (patients). All of them are very stable. We only have one of them who has a comorbid issue and, as I speak, one of our senior consultants from the University College Hospital is attending to him. Also, another consultant in the Psychiatry Department will come and counsel this particular client on the use of medications, because we found out that he was using too many medications that can be injurious to his health.
“Apart from that, everybody is fine. We even have a family here; father, mother, and children and they are doing exceptionally well.
“Eight of those cases discharged are the Northerners who came from the Sokoto axis. Since they are now negative, they want to go back to Sokoto.”
Speaking earlier, one of the discharged persons (names withheld), who spoke on behalf of the other patients, appreciated the state government, the governor and the medical personnel at the Centre.
She said: “On behalf of all of us here who are COVID-19 patients, we want to appreciate Governor Seyi Makinde. We pray that God will reward him.
“We experienced good care. They took us as their sisters and brothers. They did not stigmatise us. So, we really appreciate all the doctors and nurses. We really appreciate the Oyo State government.”
When asked what her experience was while in isolation, she maintained she and most of those in the Centre were asymptomatic, saying: “I did not show any symptoms. I just went for the test voluntarily. So, after nine days, they called me that the test came out positive and I was asked to come to the isolation centre to quarantine myself.
“The test was conducted on me on the 22nd of April at Etiosa Local Government, but I was already in Ibadan when they told me the result and I was asked to go into isolation in Ibadan because there was no isolation centre in Lagos again.”
Africa: As COVID-19 devastates health systems, over 6,000 additional children could die a day – UNICEF
An additional 6,000 children under five could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weaken health systems and disrupt routine services, UNICEF said today.
The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, newly published in The Lancet Global Health journal. Based on the worst of three scenarios in 118 low- and middle-income countries, the analysis estimates that an additional 1.2 million under-five deaths could occur in just six months, due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting.
These potential child deaths will be in addition to the 2.5 million children who already die before their 5th birthday every six months in the 118 countries included in the study, threatening to reverse nearly a decade of progress on ending preventable under-five mortality.
Some 56,700 more maternal deaths could also occur in just six months, in addition to the 144,000 deaths that already take place in the same countries over a six-month period.
“Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths be lost.”
In countries with already weak health systems, COVID-19 is causing disruptions in medical supply chains and straining financial and human resources. Visits to health care centres are declining due to lockdowns, curfews and transport disruptions, and as communities remain fearful of infection. In a commentary to the Lancet report, UNICEF warns these disruptions could result in potentially devastating increases in maternal and child deaths.
The paper analyzes three scenarios for the impact of reductions in lifesaving interventions due to the crisis on child and maternal deaths. It warns that in the least severe scenario, where coverage is reduced around 15 per cent, there would be a 9.8 per cent increase in under-five child deaths, or an estimated 1,400 a day, and an 8.3 per cent increase in maternal deaths. In the worst-case scenario, where health interventions are reduced by around 45 per cent, there could be as much as a 44.7 per cent increase in under-five child deaths and 38.6 per cent increase in maternal deaths per month.
These interventions range from family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, child delivery, vaccinations and preventive and curative services. The estimates show that if, for whatever reason, routine health care is disrupted and access to food is decreased, the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating. The greatest number of additional child deaths will be due to an increase in wasting prevalence among children, which includes the potential impact beyond the health system, and reduction in treatment of neonatal sepsis and pneumonia.
According to the modeling, and assuming reductions in coverage in the worst-case scenario, the 10 countries that could potentially have the largest number of additional child deaths are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.
The 10 countries that are most likely to witness the highest excess child mortality rates under the worst-case scenario are: Djibouti, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia. Continued provision of life-saving services is critical in these countries.
In addition to the estimated potential rise in under-five and maternal deaths described in the Lancet Global Health Journal analysis, UNICEF is deeply alarmed by the other knock-on effects of the pandemic on children:
- An estimated 77 per cent of children under the age of 18 worldwide – 1.80 billion out of 2.35 billion – were living in one of the 132 countries with stay-at-home policies, as of early May.
- Nearly 1.3 billion students – over 72 per cent – are out of school as a result of nationwide school closures in 177 countries.
- 40 per cent of the world’s population are not able to wash their hands with soap and water at home.
- Nearly 370 million children across 143 countries who normally rely on school meals for a reliable source of daily nutrition must now look to other sources as schools are shuttered.
- As of 14 April, over 117 million children in 37 countries may miss out on their measles vaccination as the pandemic causes immunization campaigns to stop to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
This week, UNICEF is launching #Reimagine, a global campaign to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming a lasting crisis for children, especially the most vulnerable children – such as those affected by poverty, exclusion or family violence. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, the public, donors and the private sector to join UNICEF as we seek to respond, recover and reimagine a world currently besieged by the coronavirus:
- Respond. We must act now to stop the disease from spreading, help the sick, and protect first responders on the frontlines risking their own lives to save others.
- Recover. Even when the pandemic slows, each country will have to continue to work to mitigate the knock-on effects on children and address the damage inflicted. Communities will also have to work together, and across borders to rebuild and prevent a return of the disease.
- Reimagine. If we have learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that our systems and policies must protect people, all the time, not just in the event of a crisis. As the world recovers from the pandemic, now is the time to lay the groundwork for building back better.
To kickstart the campaign, two of UNICEF’s valued partners – Pandora and ING – have both agreed to pledge a generous donation to show their part in answering the call to this appeal and to spur more donations from the public in the coming weeks.
“The COVID-19 crisis is a child rights crisis. We need an immediate-, medium- and long-term response that not only addresses the challenges created by the pandemic and its secondary impacts on children, but also outlines a clear version for building back a better world when the crisis finally recedes. For that, we need everyone’s ideas, resources, creativity and heart.” said Fore. “It is our shared responsibility today, to reimagine what the world will look like tomorrow.”
‘Managing COVID-19, we look at all options’ – Ehanire
To gain better insight into the management of COVID-19, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has stated that no option is being left out. He listed cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO) on treatment regimen solidarity trial; and participation in a multinational teleconference with Chinese medical and academic experts in Beijing to gain insight into how the Chinese managed to contain the outbreak.
The Minister also listed driving concerted national synergy for research into care strategy and further researches into advertised “cure drugs” from local and international claimants; and others.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed much of the strategies for the management of COVID-19 by the Health authority under his watch, at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing held Monday.
The Minister said that the cooperation with the WHO on treatment regimen Solidarity trial also has states like Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and FCT enrolled.
Dr. Ehanire further revealed that of the multinational teleconference with Chinese medical and academic experts in Beijing, wherein senior management of the Federal Ministry of Health and clinical case managers in our hospitals, have been participating, “much insight was gained into the treatment strategy of China and other matters of common interest were discussed.”
Concerning the multinational teleconference also, the Honourable Minister said “the learning from this intervention are invaluable in re-examining our methods.”
The Minister however warned that for Nigeria’s response to COVID-19 to stand a better chance of being effective, it has to be concerted and collaborative saying that this requisite synergy should cut across tiers of government, levels of care and should build on partnerships to get it right for Nigeria. “It must be sustained and or extended, with room for interstate collaboration.”
Dr. Ehanire further disclosed that “So far, our efforts are yielding result as shown in states where panic and scare were initially rife, but now subsumed.”
ThisDay Dome Treatment Centre to be opened:
The Minister of Health also disclosed that the ThisDay Dome treatment centre, a project of the Coalition against COVID-19 (Cacovid) is complete and ready for commissioning, Tuesday, revealing that the Minister of FCT will participate in the event.
Of the features of the ThisDay Dome Treatment Centre, Dr. Ehanire said it is fully self-contained, coming with a PCR Laboratory, a fully equipped Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and an incinerator. “This over 260 bed facility adds tremendous boost to the FCT capacity and capabilities.”
Tweets by @megaiconmagg
Subscribe to our Newsletter
MegaIcon Magazine Facebook Page
Politics4 days ago
Breaking News: Ex-Governor Ajimobi’s Aide, Aboderin Joins PDP
News2 days ago
FCC: Senate confirms Oyo ex-commissioner, Olowofela, 36 others
Politics1 week ago
Not Yet Uhuru As Oyo Speaker Still Under Impeachment Web
Education6 days ago
Ibadan Poly unveils Nigerian made ventilator, automated handwashing machine