Although child mortality has been on the decline, a new report shows that Uganda is one of 24 developing countries where 100 deaths per 1,000 live births are still registered. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the 24 countries were responsible for more than 80 per cent of deaths of children under five years last year. WHO says worldwide, more than 7 million children below the age of five died in 2011 alone.
Currently, Uganda’s under five mortality rate is 131 per 1,000 live births, the highest rate in East Africa. Kenya’s mortality rate is 107 per 1,000 live births, Tanzania, 122 while Rwanda is at 23.
Uganda’s statistics improved from 146 deaths per 1,000 births in 2005.
The president of the Uganda Pediatrics Association, Dr Jane Achan, said malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition and HIV/Aids are the major causes of child deaths in the country.
Although most of these diseases are preventable, Dr Achan said interventions have fallen short of universal coverage and many children are being left out. “Mosquito net coverage is, for instance, at only 45 per cent, few children are on oral rehydration therapy or Zinc for diarrhea and even fewer on PMTCT. We are not achieving any universal coverage for interventions and it needs to be scaled up and sustained,” she said.
WHO said child deaths have fallen but the disparity between sub-Saharan Africa and other regions, especially Europe, has grown. As a result, many countries are far from achieving the Millennium Development Goal targets of reducing under-five mortality rates by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
Dr Achan said the MDG target for Uganda is feasible but interventions should be scaled up. India, Nigeria, DR Congo, Pakistan and China remain the highest contributors to child mortality.