Zambia's Child Health Week presented a unique opportunity to improve children's survival

News and Press Release
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By Daniel Banda

LUSAKA, Zambia, 05 January 2010 - With support from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF, Zambia's Child Health Week took place this past December. Its goal was to reach more than 2.3 million children with critical healthcare interventions.

"Zambia's under-5 mortality rate has fallen by nearly 30 per cent since 2001, and undoubtedly Child Health Weeks are major factors in helping the Government of Zambia achieve this impressive progress in accelerated child survival," said UNICEF Zambia Representative Lotta Sylwander.

"UNICEF is committed to reducing child and maternal mortality even further and we're delighted to be partnering with DFID, which is a major donor to Zambia's current round of Child Health Week," she added.

Motivated mothers protect their children's health

Mike Hammond, DFID's Head of Office in Zambia, observed the Child Health Week activities - including vaccinations and growth monitoring - at the Chipata Health Clinic in the Zambian capital.

"It's great to see that so many mothers are highly motivated to come and take time from their busy lives to protect the health of their children," he said.

Pascalina Mulenga, 29, was one of the mothers who brought her two young children - Astridah and Pascalina - to the clinic this morning.. "I don't usually miss the vaccinations because I now understand the importance of protecting our children from preventable illnesses," she said.

Another parent, Rebecca Simukoko, 22, who brought her one-year-old baby, Deborah, said, "This year has been impressive because we do not have long queues. I have been here for less than 30 minutes."

Targeting 2.3 million children under five

"This whole process has a lofty goal: finding better ways to harness the extraordinary power of communication for life saving interventions for the children of Zambia," said Ms. Sylwander. "It will be a great day for this country when all parents and caregivers will fully embrace these life saving practices and interventions so 100 per cent of children are reached."

Child Health Week is now biannual in Zambia and targets almost 2.3 million children under the age of 5, becoming a critical element in Zambia's implementation of the Accelerated Child Survival and Development (ACSD) strategy.

Implementing ACSD entails putting in place a set of high impact, low cost interventions designed to help reach the targets of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.