'One in 15 children dies before 5 years'

MUTARE - At least one in every 15 children dies before turning five years, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) said.

In addition to the grim statistic, ZNFPC’s Manicaland communications officer, Daniel Maromo, said one newly-born baby died in every 20 live births.

“The level of under-five mortality is 69 deaths per 1 000 live births during the 5-year period...implying that at least one in every 15 children born in Zimbabwe... died before reaching their fifth birthday,” Maromo said in reference to the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS ) during a sexual and reproductive health meeting in Mutare recently.

“The infant mortality rate is 50 deaths per 1 000 live births,” he said.

Maromo said although there was an improvement in the health sector, there was need for more resources to fund health communication, which he said was “key in preventing the deaths”.

“Despite the success stories being celebrated, more efforts and resources are needed to effectively and efficiently communicate and provide communities with relevant reproductive health information and services,” he said, adding that the country was also experiencing high maternal deaths.

A maternal death is any death reported as occurring during pregnancy, childbirth, or within two months after the birth or termination of a pregnancy.

“The estimate of the maternal mortality ratio for the seven-year period preceding the 2015 ZDHS is 651 deaths per 100 000 live births.

“That is, for every 1 000 births in Zimbabwe, there are about seven maternal deaths.”

However, Maromo said the number had marginally gone down by 0,4 percent since 2011.

“The rate of mortality associated with pregnancy and childbearing is 0.90 maternal deaths per 1 000 down from 1,3 in the 2010-11 ZDHS,” he said.

He said the situation was worsened by a high incidence of teenage pregnancies, which significantly contributed to both child and maternal deaths.

“Teenage pregnancy and motherhood is a major social and health concern. Early teenage pregnancy can cause serious health problems for both the mother and the child.”

“Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from severe complications during delivery, which may result in death for both the mother and the child,” Maromo noted.

He said “teen pregnancies also greatly reduce women’s educational and employment opportunities, which in turn is associated with higher levels of fertility.”

Maromo further said fertility was higher among rural women than their urban counterparts.

“Rural women will give birth to nearly two more children during their reproductive years than urban women,” he said.

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