Efforts To Stem Childhood Mortality In Ghana Will Not Be Enough To Reach MDG, UNICEF Official Says

Anirban Chatterjee, chief of health and nutrition for UNICEF in Ghana, said the country “is doing a lot” to fight child mortality — referring to a recently launched vaccination campaign and an initiative to educate mothers about nutrition — but “I don’t think it’s enough” to reach the fourth U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015, Inter Press Service reports. “I think there is definitely scope and need for more improvement,” he added, according to the news service. A GAVI Alliance-supported campaign to provide vaccines against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease is underway, but Chatterjee added that efforts to improve nutrition need to be provided simultaneously because he “said malnourishment can sometimes double or triple the chances of dying from a condition like diarrhea or pneumonia,” IPS writes.

UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of a child’s life because it can help prevent malnourishment and “helps create immunity to early childhood killers like pneumonia and diarrhea,” the news service notes. Though “63 percent of children are exclusively breastfed during that period” in Ghana, “many women do not breastfeed their children because they are not aware of the benefits, or they work in an environment … where it is difficult to do so,” according to IPS. Antwi Adjei, head of the expanded program on immunization at the Ghana Health Service “said that the Ghana Health Service has regular cooperation between departments such as vaccinations and nutrition,” the news service writes, noting that “[t]he service’s various departments are currently meeting for Child Health Promotion Week to develop new strategies and programs related to child health” (Migneault/Okertchiri, 5/10).

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