By Mrs AyoOluwa Omonitan
While it is a popular cliché that children are the future and this is really true in many ways, we may not have much of a future to look up to if our children end up sickly. Sub – Saharan Africa has been marked as a region with the highest under 5 mortality rate. In sub-saharan Africa, about 15,000 children under the age of five years die each day. This has been viewed by many as an improvement when compared with the mark of 34000 average deaths recorded in 1990, but this is still nothing to celebrate. Many of these deaths have been associated to poor hygiene, poverty and few accidents and grossly lack of proper knowledge on health and poor health/medical facilities. Deaths among young children (especially in Africa) continue to be a major cause of concern. Children born in developed countries like Sweden have about 1% mortality rate while many born in developing countries like in African nations have somewhat around 10% mortality rate or more, varying with the inequalities between wealthy, poor, urban and rural areas in such developing countries.
All over the world, substantial progress has been made in the effort to reduce child mortality. The number of under five deaths in the world has declined since 1990; and the global under-five mortality rate has dropped 41 per cent since 1990. The leading causes of death among children under age 5 are pneumonia (18 per cent), preterm birth complications (14 per cent), diarrhoea (11 per cent), complications during birth (9 per cent), and malaria (7 per cent). Globally, more than one third of under-5 deaths can be traced mainly to malnutrition.
In Africa, some progress has also been registered over the decades. Compared to other regions, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a faster rate of reduction in under-5 deaths, with the annual rate of decline doubling between 1990–2000 and 2000–2011. However, child mortality figures in sub-Saharan Africa are still sobering. The highest rates of child mortality are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 9 children dies before age 5; and 1 in 16 children in Southern Asia.
Children’s lives The best way to secure our future is by securing the lives of our children. In order to curb these deaths and further better the health of our children, the following preventive means like meticulous breastfeeding (which also impacts mother-child relationship), supplementary feeding, food fortification, vaccination and long-lasting insecticidal nets should be encouraged and put in constant practice amongst African families.
Other curative measures like oral dehydration, therapeutic feeds, availability of antibiotics, quality investment in the medical sectors of African countries and sensitization on the importance of proper hygiene should be implemented and enforced in African countries.
If these measures are put in place, I believe that we stand a chance to correct the mortality rate of children in Africa and also improve their health.