Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Save The Children Report Praises Egypt

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Egypt has made the most progress among developing countries since 1990 in reducing deaths of children under the age of 5, according to a report by Save The Children:
The report called Egypt a success story.

"They have invested in extending access to basic maternal, newborn and child health services," Save the Children health director David Oot told reporters.

"The country has aimed to reduce the fertility rate, reduce the maternal mortality rate and improve pregnancy outcomes. Since 1990, use of contraceptives has increased to nearly 60 percent, and the fertility rate has slowly declined from 4.3 to 3.1 births per woman," the report said.

Joining Egypt among the five most-improved were: Indonesia with a 60 percent lower child death rate amid major investments in public health; Bangladesh, 51 percent lower; Nepal, 49 percent lower; and the Philippines, 47 percent lower.

Joining Iraq among the nations whose child death rates deteriorated the most were Botswana, 107 percent worse; Zimbabwe, 65 percent worse; Swaziland, 45 percent worse; and Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya and Cambodia, all 24 percent worse.

Life-saving measures -- vaccines, oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea and insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria -- are inexpensive, but remain out of reach in many places, Save the Children chief Charles MacCormack said.

Of course, Iraq's status of child death prevention has worsened the most among developing countries in the past decade and a half:
Iraq, gripped by war since a U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 and subjected to years of economic sanctions before that, had a 150 percent increase in child mortality, it added.

"Even before the latest war, Iraqi mothers and children were facing a grave humanitarian crisis caused by years of repression, conflict and external sanctions," the report said.

Wartime electricity shortages, insufficient clean water, deteriorating health services and soaring inflation have worsened already difficult living conditions, it said.

In 2005, it added, 122,000 Iraqi children -- one in eight -- died before age 5, half in the first month of life.

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