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More women, children survive today than ever before – Report

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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Health

COVID-19: Lagos health commissioner, Abayomi tests positive

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Health,  Prof. Akin Abayomi, has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Gbenga Omotoso, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, disclosed this in  a statement issued on Monday.

The statement also added that Abayomi had close contact with persons feeling unwell who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Subsequent to close contact with persons feeling unwell and testing positive for the COVID-19 infection, the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has tested positive for the virus.

“Professor Abayomi became aware of his status following the required testing protocol of contact tracing procedures,” the statement partly read.

The commissioner who had no symptoms of the virus, is adhering to the protocol of home-based strategy in the state.

While embarking on self-isolation for the next 14 days, he will still continue to discharge his duties both as the Deputy Incident Commander of the Incident Command System for COVID-19 and as the Commissioner for Health.

Meanwhile, members of the State Executive Council wish him a speedy recovery during the period.

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Health

COVID-19: Imo govt. launches innovative mobile health insurance with support from WHO

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The Governor of Imo State, Mr. Hope Uzodinma last Wednesday launched the innovative Mobile Health Insurance Programme in Owerri.

This mobile health insurance initiative has been designed with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve seamless coverage of the over 96% population in the informal sector of the State on health insurance while reducing the existing out-of-pocket expenditure of 92%. The mobile platforms in addition, provide automated opportunities for philanthropists to graciously adopt the poor and vulnerable on health insurance.

In his remarks, the  Governor appreciated the leadership role of WHO in the health sector of the state and globally especially in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. He added that the state government depends strongly on the genuine and constructive partnership of the World Health Organization towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Governor Uzodinma added that WHO supported the state, with the design and flag-off of the Health Insurance Scheme, which now culminates in the launch of the use of mobile phone technology to pay for and access Health Insurance, the first of its kind in Africa towards   ensuring that people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

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He restated his commitment to repositioning the entire Health Sector in the State, while requesting WHOs renewed partnership in “PHC revitalization, full implementation of the State Health Insurance scheme to provide access to essential Healthcare to Imo citizens at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care, revamping of our Health Security, Emergency preparedness and response, and overhaul of the drug revolving scheme to eliminate the issue of fake or substandard drugs in our hospitals.”

Speaking at the event, the WHO Nigeria Representative,  Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo appreciated the government of Imo State for placing the health of her people high on overall agenda of government. While recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vulnerabilities of the global health systems, he pledged WHO’s continuous support within the 13 General Program of work and the State Health Strategic Development Plan.

Dr Mulmbo said that WHO recognizes the peculiar needs of each population from others and thus, makes deliberate efforts to fashion out the health system that works for them based on their needs.

He appreciated the level of political commitment to health in the State and expressed confidence that if sustained, the State and WHO will together promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.

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WHO already supported the State with core health financing analytics with development and printing of the State Health Financing Policy and Strategy, operational guidelines of the State Health Insurance Scheme key operational documents for the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, as well as laptop computers, some of which were presented during the event.

The high point of the event was the conferment of the title of “Oche Ndu 1 (protector and preserver of life) of Imo State” on Dr. Kazadi on behalf of WHO, by the Chairman of Imo State Traditional Rulers, in recognition of all the lives that have been saved through the humanitarian work done by WHO in the State.

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Health

Oyo govt, HACEY Health Initiative set to end female genital mutilation

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Oyo State Government in conjunction with HACEY Health Initiative on Thursday launched a campaign train tagged ” Stop Cut Project ” a project targeted at achieving zero record of female genital mutilation in the state within the next three years.

Oyo State Commissioner for health, Dr. Bashir Bello, while delivering his address at a stakeholders’ roundtable organized by HACEY Health initiative in respect of the Stop Cut Project, held at the Ministry of Health, Secretariat, Ibadan, said it was high time for the public to put aside cultural believes on female organ mutilation considering its effects on victims.

Dr. Bello, maintained that the society needed to be familiar with the consequences of the practice, hence, the government would intensify efforts in educating the populace on hazards attributed to the act.

He attributed the existence of this harmful practice in the society to inability of victims to report the perpetrators to the appropriate quarters for necessary actions, saying that the habit did not enable the perpetrators to pay the price for their actions.

He assured the convener of the project, HACEY health initiative of government support towards realization of set goals.

In his remarks, the Project Director, HACEY Health Initiative , Isiaiah Owolabi, said HACEY was determined to create a network of active people willing to end female genital mutilation in this era.

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Owalabi noted that key stakeholders would be engaged continually and build alliance for the purpose of eradicating the practices especially in core rural areas of the state.

“Our motive is to increase public awareness on female genital mutilation by dishing out risks associated to the practice to the public.

” The period of our intervention is three years, we are doing this in three states, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo. We believe at the end of this arrangement; we will achieve zero record of female genital mutilation in the state.

“We are relying on ministry of health and other relevant ministries and agencies in achieving this.

Similarly, the Oyo State Female Genital Multination Coordinator, Mrs. Baliqis Olawoyin, described the FGM as harmful practice, saying that the havocs emanated from it are usually irreversible.

Mrs. Oluwakemi also noted that the practice is regarded as violation of girls and women rights.
she thereafter called on parents to desist from encouraging or mandating their children to engage in mutilation of female organ for the act to become a thing of the past in Oyo state.

Also speaking, Oyo State Coordinator, National Orientation Agency, Mrs. Dolapo Dosumu, represented by Mr. Moshood Olaleye, said that there is need for government and Non-governmental organisations to sustain the campaign and ensure that they end Female genital Mutilation in Oyo State.

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“I urged all other relevant stakeholders to be actively involved in campaign and effective synergy and networking established for impact”

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