Govt launches child survival strategy

WINDHOEK; The Namibian Government has joined the rest of the world in renewing its promise to children by launching ‘A Promise Renewed’ – the Child Survival Strategy and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) country implementation plan.

The 2013 Namibia Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2013) showed that the under-five mortality rate in the country is 54 per 1 000 live births, while the maternal mortality rate stands at 358 per 100 000 live births.

For this reason the Government in partnership with the Namibian Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), the United Nation’s Children Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the plan at the beginning of September.

UNICEF Country Representative Micaela Marques de Sousa told Nampa under the umbrella of the renewed promise, the Child Survival Strategy aims to reduce the under-five mortality rate from 54 in 2013 to 39 by the year 2015 and to 24 by 2018. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number to below 20 by the year 2035 as per Namibia’s pledge to the global Child Survival Initiative.

“We at UNICEF Namibia see the launch of ‘A Promise Renewed’ as an opportunity to use comparative advantage and do things better, with little resources, for optimal results for the children,” De Sousa said.

The strategy is costed with three budget scenarios – additional per capita funding that could rapidly reduce child mortality by strengthening family-orientated based services; population-orientated scheduled services; and individually-orientated clinical services.

De Sousa further noted that child poverty in Namibia is alarming, with 18 per cent of children still living in severe poverty. But there is good news, she added.

“The Child Survival Strategy, the Scaling Up Nutritional Plan, and the efforts by Government aim to basically reverse this whole situation, and we at Unicef can really say that efforts are being made,” she said.

The UNICEF Country Representative indicated that the statistics from the 2013 NDHS show that Namibia will not achieve the targets of the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which deal with the reduction of child mortality and improving of maternal health by 2015; or that of MDG 1 – eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

De Sousa therefore called for all outstanding issues to be addressed now for the said MDGs to be achieved.

“We are delighted and encouraged that the Government of Namibia is taking this bold step,” she said.