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 Partners NGOs on Eye Surgery, Treatment
Oyo State Governor , Engr. Seyi Makinde has advocated medical check up as preventive measure to reduce incidence of Secondary Health Care in the society especially as human sight was concerned.
Governor Makinde made this known in his address delivered at the Free Eye Outreach and Cataract Surgery, jointly organised by Oyo State Ministry of Health, Ophthamological Society of Nigeria, Oyo State branch, Organization of Tadhomum Muslimim, Nigeria, a Saudi Based Humanitarian Organization known as Al Basar International Foundation, and other non-governmental organizations to mark 2019 World Sight Day, which took place at the State Hospital, Ring road, Ibadan and at the State Hospital in Oyo town.
The Governor who was represented in Ibadan and Oyo centers by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Muftau Ayoola and his counterpart at the Hospital Management Board, Mrs. Bola Oloko respectively said the present administration was not focusing only on provision of curative services but to improve awareness on preventive steps for people of the state to be sound and healthy.
He noted that concerted efforts would be made in ensuring that free health care system would be a permanent thing in the state.
“I specially want to appreciate Al Basar International Foundation who has over the years supported the state in this laudable venture.
“Our goal is to really reform the health care system to be able to provide high quality health coverage in a cost effective way and in achieving this, government, individuals and various organizations have roles to play.
“With these in place, i want to assure you that we would be securing an unrivaled legacy in the provision of quality health care service for all and sundry.”
Makinde however called on the organizers of the project to forward a proposal to the government on how to make subsequent editions more effective.
In his Good will message, Aare Musulim of Yoruba, Oyo and Delta States , Alhaji Daud Mankanjuola, represented by Doctor Abdul Jelili Kola Hamad at the State Hospital, Ring road, Ibadan enjoined wealthy people in the country to minimize their investment on luxuries and cue involve in humanitarian services for the benefit of mankind.
In their separate remarks, the President, Organisation of Tadhomum Musulimim, Nigeria, Doctor Kazeem Gbadamosi and a member of Al Basar International Foundation , Saudi Arabia, Mohsen Naif, said the free eye treatment and cataract surgery was done to put smile on the faces of those suffering from the disease, particularly the less privileged among them .
“Eight thousand patients were examined during the medical outreach , Two Hundred glasses were given to those in need at no cost , while Seven Hundred cataract surgeries were done successfully,” Gbadamosi hinted.
While appreciating Oyo State Government for accommodating Al Basar team for period of a week and usage of hospital facilities for the surgery, Doctor Gbadamosi noted that a month follow up treatment would be given to the beneficiaries by medical experts in Nigeria while drugs would be given to ensure patients were totally healthy.
Experts call for mental health education to curb suicide
Psychiatrists have called for mental health education as a tool to curb the rising tides of suicide in Nigeria.
The experts made the call on Friday in Lagos, while commenting on the commemoration of the 2019 World Mental Health.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act.
It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Abdur-Rasheed Awesu, who works at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, insisted that there is a need to change the mindset of everyone on how to maintain good health.
He said that family and neighbours need to be up and doing, and as well be up to the task of curbing the tide.
Also, in her comments, Dr Veronic Nyamali, a psychiatrist, emphasized that life should be seen from mixed angles of good, sweet and bad.
Nyamali further counseled that suicide should not be an option to end one’s life, noting that the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s statistics show that one million people died of suicide.
She disclosed that every 40 seconds, someone died and at every two seconds, someone is somewhere attempting to commit suicide.
Nyamali explained that factors associated with suicide include: Biological, Medical, Social, Genetic and psychological.
She said that when these factors occurred, attention should be given to the families of the bereaved, not to be hammering on what the victim used in taking his or her life, such that we all know sniper now.
The psychiatrist urged the governments to put up a unit in the hospital environment to be dealing with cases of suicide as it was being done in accident emergencies in normal hospitals.
Nyamali maintained that the media also have great role to play in the surge and should always help in the areas of information and keeping hope alive for whoever was passing through one challenge or the other.
Saudi Arabia launches volunteer medical campaign in Nigeria
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has launched its Volunteer Medical Campaign for combating blindness and its causes in Nigeria to combat eye problems and treat eye patients.
The campaign, launched on Saturday is funded by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in collaboration with Al Basar International Foundation.
This is in order to contribute to treating eye patients and combating eye problems in the Nigerian society.
The campaign’s first stage comprises of eye patients in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and in Lafiya (Nasarawa State), and it is coordinated with the local government authorities in the states. The campaign will continue until the end of October, the current month.
The campaign aims at detecting and diagnosing the problems of eye patients by consultants and surgeons in order to give them the necessary treatment and to do surgery to remove cataract and glaucoma for those in need of the surgery, as well as do other minor surgical operations and offer them medicine and medical glasses.
More than twenty (20) persons work in this campaign, comprising of consultants, technicians assistants, and a number of volunteers.
On the first day of the campaign, a great number of Nigerian citizens who came to the campaign’s post in the city of Ibadan were actually examined and diagnosed. Most of them were found to have sight weakness or disorders, and the necessary treatment was given to them. The approval has also been made to perform five hundred (500) surgical operations in the coming days in order to remove cataract and glaucoma.
This campaign proceeds from the leading humanitarian role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in terms of humanitarian and relief aid in various countries of the world, as well as the interest of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, and his trustworthy Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, in enhancing humanitarian work in all fields and in offering aid to friendly countries.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also offers its humanitarian aid to all humanity, irrespective of religion, race or color.
This campain comes in order to enhance and strengthen the excellent historical ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which are based on friendliness and mutual cooperation.