Lilongwe — UNICEF Specialist on Maternal and Newborn Health, Dr Atnafu Asfaw has said the country needs to build on the gains they have made in reducing the child mortality rate by establishing newborn care units to significantly reduce the deaths of newborns in the country.
He was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of project dissemination meeting on improving the quality of critical neonatal care in referral facilities which was organized by the Pediatric and Child Health Association (PACHA) in Lilongwe.
"We need to have the care units which are dedicated handling newborns which are sick with skilled health providers that could provide quality care and with the needed equipment in full supply at all district hospital levels," Dr Asfaw explained.
Malawi is one of those countries that have successfully expanded health services to women and children including those in rural communities as a result of which the country was among the few that achieved the millennium development goal targets in reducing maternal deaths.
He said Malawi as a country needs to improve its capacity in terms of facilities and the readiness to take care of newborns to further consolidating its impressing strides it has made in the area.
"Malawi does share the challenges and problems that are present in other many parts of the continent but we could say that in terms of child survival in this country is one of the best.
"The interventions that we are currently discussing today that are being implemented by PACHA together with the government are proving to be high impact interventions that are serving the lives of newborns," the UNICEF Specialist observed.
President for PACHA, Dr Macpherson Mallewa said his organization is focusing on implementing interventions that could improve the care of newborns like creating new born units and training of health personnel.
"We need an integrated approach which would not only have one group of health service provider tasked with improving the survival of newborns. We want to improvise ways how we can sustain the results we have made from our efforts over the years as a country," he said.
Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Mwasambo said although the country has managed to achieve the MDG4 by reducing the number of newborn deaths by two-thirds ahead of schedule but it could not afford to sit on its laurels still.
"I need to thank a number of stakeholders like PACHA who are working with government in make sure the proportion reduction of newborn deaths if further signified," he acknowledged.
PACHA followed up the dissemination meeting by holding its first ever two day Annual Conference under the theme Using Multidisciplinary Approach to Improve Child Health Outcomes Throughout Malawi.