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HIV/AIDS remains a big child killer
Monday 11 October 2004
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SOUTHERN AFRICA: HIV/AIDS remains a big child killer

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Swaziland has registered one of the fastest increases in under-five deaths

JOHANNESBURG, 8 October (PLUSNEWS) - HIV/AIDS remains one of the main causes of child mortality globally, with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland recording the second, third and fourth fastest increases in under-five deaths in the world, according to a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report released on Friday.

The three Southern African countries also have the world's highest national HIV prevalence rates - about 37 percent (Botswana), 25 percent (Zimbabwe) and 39 percent (Swaziland). The under-five mortality rate in Botswana increased from 58 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 110 in 2002, in Zimbabwe from 80 per 1,000 in 1990 to 123 in 2002, and in Swaziland from 110 per 1,000 in 1990 to 149 in 2002. Efforts in these countries will need to almost triple.

The UNICEF report, 'Progress for Children', is a global progress report card on achieving a two-thirds reduction in under-five mortality rates between 1990 and 2015.

South Africa and Zambia also featured among the countries where the number children who did not live to the age of five had increased since 1990.

"The world has the tools to improve child survival, if only it would use them, said UNICEF's executive director, Carol Bellamy, at the release of the report in New York. "Vaccines, micronutrient supplements and insecticide-treated mosquito nets do not cost much, and would save millions of children ... No government should be allowed to let another ten years pass with so little progress for children."

According to the report, 91 developing countries were still lagging behind the target. Poor neonatal conditions, followed by infectious and parasitic diseases, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea were the main causes of death. Malaria accounted for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, and malnutrition contributed to more than half of all child deaths worldwide, said the World Health Organisation.

Angola's high child mortality rate had stagnated, the report noted. One in four Angolan children died before their fifth birthday - malaria, acute respiratory disease, diarrhoea, measles and unclean water were the biggest child killers.

"Greatly improved nutrition and the strengthening of routine immunisation in peacetime Angola are providing the foundations for better child health systems," said UNICEF's representative in Angola, Mario Ferrari. "These initiatives will now be consolidated and expanded by ministry of health and UNICEF 'Child Health Days', which will engage communities and offer a package of health services. We are on the right path, but after 27 years of destructive war, the road is long and requires continued international assistance."

The number of under-five deaths in other Southern African countries - Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Mauritius, Malawi and Lesotho - had dropped, but their child mortality rates were still higher than the required rate.


Humanitarian crisis crippling public health sector,  16/Sep/04
HIV/AIDS changing the face of agriculture,  26/Aug/04
Female-headed households most vulnerable to food insecurity,  28/Jul/04
Households burdened by an increasing number of AIDS orphans,  13/Jul/04
Responding to the challenge of "feminisation" of AIDS,  7/Jul/04
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making A difference for Children Affected by AIDS
Children and AIDS International Non-Government Organisation Network (CAINN)

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • IRIN
  • Inter Press Service (IPS)
  • Health Systems Trust
  • Health & Development Networks
  • GTZ/Afronets

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