​World Vision says child death is threat to West Africa’s development

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Mr Jean Baptiste Kamate, World Vision (WV) Regional Vice President for the West African Sub Region, on Monday said child death in the region was a threat to development.

The observation is contained in a statement signed by Mr Kamate, to mark the Global Week of Action of WV, which falls on November 13 – 20, copied to the Ghana News Agency.

It said five of the 24 countries with high child mortality were located in West Africa, adding, “This is mostly due to malnutrition, which accounts for 50 per cent of the child deaths, especially in the Sahel region, causing around 37 per cent stunting amongst children”.

The statement said the stunted children also suffered irreversible brain capacity loss, which jeopardized their potential for education and further perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty in their communities.

It said: “Also in the Sahel, majority of the households derive their livelihood from agriculture and many vulnerable people do not have legal rights to their farming lands”.

The statement explained that the venerability was exacerbated by the current droughts and spikes in food prices, which resulted in food insecurity that affected primarily children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

It said: “This high rate of child deaths is likely to compromise the development efforts in the region. It is also denying children two fundamental rights guaranteed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: the Right to Food and Right to Health”.

The statement said the high rate of child deaths was an impediment to development efforts in the Sahel, and a silent emergency that required urgent attention by West African Governments as those children’s deaths represented a loss of potential manpower for the economic and industrial development.

It reiterated that the sustainable health policies that prioritized access to quality health services for the most vulnerable required serious attention and investments in strengthening health systems that would enhance social justice and economic productivity.

The statement said West African leaders were committed to improving the acceleration of progress on the Millennium Development Goals four and five and that this was done within the framework of the United Nations Secretary General’s campaign “Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) “ in 2010, and re-iterated in the Abuja Declaration of Heads of States.

It, however, bemoaned that the commitment was yet to be translated into action as shown by the 2012 United Nations International Children’s Fund report, which indicated that West African countries were lagging behind in the reduction of child mortality.

The statement said: “As a development organization working for the most vulnerable communities, WV has developed a set of interventions, supported by evidence and good practices in maternal and child health sectors”.

It said the WV sought to support governments’ efforts in ending child-preventable deaths in West Africa.

The statement stated that one of the key strategies of WV interventions is the “Child Health Now Campaign (CHN)” that aimed at enhancing policy dialogue with stakeholders for the implementation of commitments to improve maternal and child health.

It emphasized that two key priorities of the CHN were the advocate for government for their commitment of allocating 15 per cent of Gross Domestic Products to health and developing sustainable livelihoods for the population to help end the everyday emergency which contributed to children’s death in West Africa.


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