In countries all over the world, children are considered to be the future. However, in most developing countries, child mortality rates are alarmingly high and the health status of children is below acceptable levels. As it is Child Health Week in Zambia we take a look at current child health statistics in Zambia. During Child Health Week children under five receive free heath services in Zambia.
According to The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, (UNICEF) infant, neonatal and under-five mortality rates in Zambia are 70, 34, and 119 per 1,000 live births, respectively. These high morbidity and mortality rates are caused by a combination of infectious diseases — in particular malaria, under nutrition, vitamin A deficiency and anaemia. Malaria remains the main killer of children under five. It is also the main cause of anaemia. Another prime factor causing these high mortality rates is the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
With such grim statistics, it is a relief to hear about Child Health Week which launched on Monday 20th of June and runs untill Saturday the 25th June. Child Health Week is a biannual event in Zambia that targets about 2.3 million children under the age of five. During this Child Health Week, children under the age of five will have access to free health services at various health centres including as the provision of vitamin A, deworming, immunisations for polio, measles, DPT, BCG and tetanus toxoid. Family planning services will also be provided. Other activities will include HIV/AIDS counselling and testing as well as screening for severe acute malnutrition in selected districts. Mosquito nets and malaria case management will also be offered.
Child Health Week has grown to be a critical element in Zambia’s implementation of the Accelerated Child Survival and Development (ACSD) strategy. The ACSD strategy is designed to help reach the targets of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health by putting in place a set of high impact, low cost interventions.
Over the last few years Child Health Week in Zambia has been impressively successful. According to UNICEF Zambia representative, Lotta Sylwanda, Zambia’s under five mortality rate has fallen by nearly 30% since 2001, and undoubtedly Child Health Weeks have been a major factor in achieving this impressive progress in accelerated child survival.
Parents and guardians in Zambia are encouraged to take all children under five years of age any health facility carrying out the Child health week. This year’s Child Health Week is under the theme, “Our children, Our investment.”
Note: Child Health week is on-going despite the week of national mourning that has been declared for the late second republican President Dr. Frederick Chiluba.