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CHILD DEATHS IN AFRICA

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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A third of the 279 children aged below five who die daily in Kenya are in Nyanza Province, Unicef has said. Unicef’s Child Survival and Development head Dr Sanjiv Kumar also said one in every 13 children born in the country die. "One in every seven children born alive in Nyanza Province die before their fifth birthday and a newborn dies every 90 minutes in the province," he said. Dr Kumar said the cause of high death rate among children might be due to inadequate food intake by pregnant mothers leading to low birth weight. This, he said, leads to children born malnourished and susceptible to malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea leading to death. However, he said these causes are preventable citing intervention from the family as key towards that. Speaking in Kisumu at a workshop, Kumar said Western, Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces contribute about three quarters of child deaths. Danger signs To help address this, Child Survival Development Strategy 2008-2015 identified breastfeeding and hygiene as key to addressing child deaths. "Majority of the interventions like breastfeeding must start from home to prevent these deaths," explained Kumar. He added: "Families have to identify the danger signs early and know where to seek help." Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said the Government is putting measures in place to help reduce the child death rate. "The Government interventions include vaccination of children and women, provision of safe drinking water, treated mosquito nets and improvement of sanitation," said Dr Ndemo. Ndemo also recognised the role of information in reducing these cases. He, however, noted that women are key players in the survival and development of children. "At family and community level, women hold the key to their own health and that of the children. Their actions can increase a child’s chances for healthy survival and development," he said.

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