WHO: Millions Die in Infancy and Childbirth
A WHO report reminds us that millions of people die each year in the Third World from preventable causes.
One woman still dies every minute in pregnancy or childbirth, while each 60 seconds 20 young children succumb to easily preventable disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. The United Nations agency said the situation for expectant mothers and babies had worsened since the 1990s in dozens of countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, defying global advances in medicine. “Despite much good work over the years, 10.6 million children and 529,000 mothers are still dying each year, mostly from avoidable causes,” the WHO said in its annual report, entitled “Make Every Mother and Child Count.”
On current trends, some countries in Africa could take another 150 years to reach U.N. targets for reducing maternal mortality, WHO officials said. The WHO called for an additional investment of $9 billion annually on maternal and child healthcare, including programs to combat malnutrition and avoidable diseases. Pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, AIDS and neonatal ailments were the main killers of children under five. The toll includes more than four million newborns who die before they are a month old, but not some 3.3 million stillbirths annually. Some 68,000 maternal deaths, or just under 10 percent, are attributable to unsafe abortions, mostly in poor countries.
The investment is worth it both in practical and humanitarian terms. Indeed, we’d easily save the $9 billion each year just in infections that made their way back to the developed world. The problem is making the money reach its target, a notoriously difficult problem when dealing with the developing world.