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Few Countries on Track to Curb Maternal, Child Mortality Rates
Date:4/11/2008

me progress since 1990 to reduce the coverage gap for four key interventions -- family planning, maternal and newborn care, immunization and treatment of sick children. Yet the study, by the Countdown 2008 Equity Analysis Group, said the pace needs to be more than doubled if they hope to meet goals for 2015.

While actual maternal mortality was still high or very high in 56 of 68 countries, one report suggests some key parts of the solution are in place. These include consensus on priority interventions (such as immunization and antenatal care), various health-care policies and funding increases.

For example, donor funding increases have nearly doubled funding per child in the 68 countries, according to one report in The Lancet. Child-related disbursements increased from a mean of $4 per child in 2003 to $7 in 2006. Those for maternal and neonatal health increased from $7 per live birth in 2003 to $12 per live birth in 2006.

However, the report noted that funding still dropped in several countries, stifling attempts for governments to make long-term commitments to health improvements.

"In the seven years until 2015, the next two years before the next Countdown Report will be the most crucial," the study's authors wrote. "With strategic decisions and investments, and a focus on partnerships for results, we have the opportunity to see unprecedented progress in these 68 countries. Or will the 2010 report show more of the same gaps and lives lost?"

Some of the other findings in the special edition include:

  • Policy gaps in many of the countries are hindering their progress along with financing woes and human resources issues.
  • Tanzania is one of the few African nations on track to meet the goal of reducing child mortality, showing a 24 percent decline from 2000 to 2004. The report credits good program funding and several initiatives such as insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria, v
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