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Economy

Kenya behind in child mortality reduction drive, says UN report

Kenya needs to save an additional 113,000 lives of children under five years to achieve the fourth Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by 2015.

A report developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality shows progressive decline in mortality rates among children in the last two decades.

The Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2013 report, was written with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations and the World Bank.

In 1990, 98 children died for every 1000 live births but the mortality rate has since decline by 26 per cent to record 73 deaths per 1,000 children.

Despite the decline, the number of actual deaths has increased. The report says 108,000 children under the age of five died in the country last year compared to 96,000 in 1990.

Even with the 4.9 per cent infant mortality rate, 72,000 children below the age of one year died in 2012 while another 40,000 did not survive their first month of birth. Mortality rates for children under five years were higher in males than their female counterparts.

According to the report on global child survival, the annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality needs to increase by three per cent in order to halve the current trend by 2015.

Ministry of Health records show that 7.6 million children under the age of five died in 2010 from diseases that could have been prevented.

It is estimated that half of the deaths that occur within a month of a child’s life occur on the first day of their lives mainly due to lack of access to proper health services for mothers during delivery.

The introduction of free maternity services in public hospitals has led to a decrease in the number of women delivering at home, with the ministry recording a 10 per cent nationwide increase in hospital deliveries since June.

The global survey shows that 18,000 children died everyday last year before reaching their fifth birthday.

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