According to the statistics, child mortality dropped from 1,000 to 578 in every 100,000 minors during the period under review. The national target is to reduce the mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.
That means in the next two years child deaths must have dropped to about 300 in every 100,000 minors. The trend shows that Tanzania is on track in achieving the MDG 4. We strongly believe that the goal which is likely to be achieved will actually be attained mainly because the deaths are mostly due to preventable causes.
Records show that most child deaths are due to malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition and complications of low birth weight as well as HIV and AIDS. While malnutrition is the underlying factor in more than 50 per cent of child deaths, neonatal deaths account for 50 per cent of infant mortality. With proper strategies and timely action these deaths could be prevented.
Every one has a role to play in this regard – the government on one side and parents and the general public on the other. It is heartening to note that the government on its part has developed strategies that aim at reducing infant and child mortality, especially malaria-related morbidity and mortality.
Programmes being implemented include improved vaccination coverage and timely availability of services including drugs. Likewise, Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) has been rolled-over to all districts and efforts to control malaria through use of mosquito nets particularly insecticide-treated ones go on smoothly. However, more needs to be done to attain the desired target.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Donan Mmbando, for example, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that many women still deliver at home and are rarely attended by a trained health provider. Dr Mmbando told a policy development workshop organised by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) that although effective and low cost interventions for maternal and child deaths are available in the country, they are not reaching all.
This calls for enhanced efforts by all stakeholders to improve the situation. Let us join hands to curb deaths of our children who are the future of this nation.