New Era (Windhoek)

7 February 2013

Namibia Reduces Infant Mortality

Windhoek — Infant mortality has decreased by 5.2 per 1 000 live births, ranking Namibia second in Africa just after Mauritius, in terms of declining deaths in children under the age of five, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, announced yesterday.

In 1992, statistics for infant mortality stood at 83 per 1 000 live births. In 2006 the rate was 69 per 1 000 live births.

The classification was recently announced at the Alliance of African Heads of State and Government meeting in Ethiopia, Kamwi said.

An upbeat Kamwi, who addressed his ministry's management meeting yesterday, said notable progress has been made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's).

Goal four of the MDG's calls for a reduction in deaths in children under five years by two-thirds by 2015.

"Even though we have made tremendous progress, we must remain vigilant and keep up the hard work," Kamwi said.

In addition, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, on behalf of the Namibian people, was recently awarded the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) award for excellence in impact and implementation in the fight against malaria, at the Alliance of African Heads of State and Government meeting in Ethiopia.

Previously Kamwi said Namibia has made tremendous progress in its fight against malaria that in the past caused thousands of deaths but have now been reduced to a single digit.

At independence about 7 000 people died of malaria in the country but due to concerted efforts by the ministry last year only four malaria deaths were recorded, Kamwi said.

"Malaria elimination is what we need to achieve in Namibia," reiterated Kamwi.

This can however only be achieved by having close working ties with neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, Kamwi said his ministry regards the development of capital projects especially health facilities as crucial to make health and social services accessible to all citizens.

He added that the Ministry of Health and Social Services is upgrading six hospitals, 18 clinics and four health centres with joint supervision from the Ministry of Works and Transport.

With regard to the outbreak of measles in the Ohangwena and Kunene regions, Kamwi said: "There is a greater need for strengthening routine immunizations."

He also touched on the country's shortage of health personnel, saying the rate of filling posts in the various health professions remain a challenge. The World Health Organisation's Country Representative, Dr Magda Robalo also spoke at the Ministry of Health and Social Services' ministerial management meeting yesterday.

"Namibia needs a critical mass of public health experts, public health managers, public health oriented policies and strategies, based on primary health care principles," said Robalo.

She however noted that Namibia has improved a number of health indicators. "We need improved service delivery," Robalo stressed.

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