Vaccinations Enable More Women and Children to Survive
More women and their children are surviving today than ever before, according to new estimates released by the United Nations groups, led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since the year 2000, child deaths have reduced by nearly half and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to improved access to affordable, quality health services, said the WHO report published on September 19, 2019.
“In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.
Women and newborns are most vulnerable during and immediately after childbirth.
An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or 1 every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes, the WHO estimates say.
Children face the highest risk of dying in the first month, especially if they are born too soon or too small, have complications during birth, congenital defects, or contract infections.
About a third of these deaths occur within the 1st day and nearly three quarters in the first week alone.
For children who survive the 1st month, infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria account for the most deaths globally.
The good news is there are vaccines available that prevent these diseases.
“Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
“A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines, and vaccines can make the difference between life and death.”
Previously, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of the WHO and Vice-Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said in a commentary, “It is hard to imagine a more effective method than vaccination for keeping children healthy.”
“Not only do vaccines save lives in huge numbers, but they are also cost-effective, relatively easy to deliver and, in most cases, provide lifelong protection.”
“These health benefits spin-off into economic and social development. Healthy children are more likely to do better at school and become healthy productive adults, who contribute by working, investing and saving throughout their lives,” concluded Dr. Bustreo.
The WHO’s global target for ending preventable maternal mortality is to reduce global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
Unfortunately, the world will fall short of this target by more than 1 million lives if the current pace of progress continues, said the WHO.
In 2018, there were 121 countries that had already achieved this under-five mortality rate.
But, 53 countries will need to accelerate progress to reach the WHO’s target on child survival by 2030.
“We are pleased to see a reduction in maternal deaths, but the decline is far from adequate,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Hundreds of thousands of women continue to die each year from preventable causes.”
“This is unacceptable. It's time to pick up the pace -- to save women's lives and meet our global target on maternal mortality by 2030.”
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