African leaders urged to invest more in maternal, child health

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Save the Children, a non-profit organization working to create positive change for disadvantaged children, has urged African leaders me e ting here to recognize that investing in maternal and child health was critical t o development, including economic development, in their countries.
In a debate on maternal and child health care at the 15th Ordinary Session of th e Assembly of the African Union (AU) Monday, South African singer and UNICEF Goo d will Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka called on African leaders to give prioritize m aternal and child health.
In response, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni suggested that investments to hel p expand the economy had come before what he called "social expenditure".
However, Save the Children and several economic and health experts said basic he alth services for mothers and infants were a very smart investment in any nation s economy.
Health economists have shown that maternal mortality was a major economic drag, with one study putting the annual productivity losses at US$15 billion worldwide .
According to Save the Children's Africa advocacy advisor Chikezie Anyanwu, "Inve sting in the health of mothers and children is an investment in the development a nd future of Africa.
" Anyanwu said: "If mothers die in childbirth, they cannot be productive.
If child ren don't get a healthy start in life, research shows they won't do as well in s c hool, earn as much, or reach their full potential to support their country's dev e lopment.
" The vast majority of Africa's annual 4.
5 million newborn and child deaths and 26 5,000 maternal deaths are preventable.
Participants said key solutions were the provision of pre-natal and post-natal c are, skilled attendance at birth and very low-cost, proven preventive measures a n d treatment for major child killers like pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.
"It doesn't take a vast amount of resources to make a major difference.
Consider how the very poor country of Malawi has been able to dramatically reduce child d eaths in recent years," Anyanwu said, adding "It's not a matter of resources.
It ' s a matter of political will.
We urge African leaders to demonstrate that will f o r the sake of mothers, children and their countries' future.
"

26 july 2010 17:01:00




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