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Under-5 mortality rate drops

- UNICEF report reveals

June 24, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has shown that under-five mortality rate across the country has been declining over the past few years but with 161 deaths per any 1,000 live births. However, the country is still among the world’s worst.

According to the 11th edition of the UNICEF Progress for Children report released this week, the number dropped from about 185 in 2012 to 161 to date, which shows that the country has made significant improvement in reducing under-five mortality following the launch of the free healthcare scheme by President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Speaking to Concord Times, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo said since the scheme was launched a lot of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under-five years have been benefiting from it, which is one reason for the drop in the number of child deaths in the country.

He said although the Ebola virus disease caused many people to stop accessing primary health units, the number of free healthcare beneficiaries accessing health centres has significantly improved in the last four to five months, as the country is now experiencing a steady drop in the number of new confirmed Ebola cases.

Dr. Kargbo said the report shows that significant strides have been made in the last 15 years towards improving the lives of millions of children, although he acknowledged some have had to play catch-up due to hardship they inherited at birth, denying them a fair chance to survive, thrive and realise their full potential.

The Chief Medical Officer said the government is actively working to close the gap, adding that “now is the time to aim higher, reach further and target the most vulnerable children that our future depends on”.

Child Survival Expert at UNICEF, Dr. Yaron Wolman, said the reduction in child mortality is a good sign of government’s effort in trying to provide a good health care system for its people and to ensure children are safe and secure from all communicable and non-communicable diseases.