Proactive moms curb mortality

2018-06-20 06:01

South Africa’s infant mortality rate is at its lowest in almost two decades, having fallen by 32% between 2002 and 2017.

This is according to the latest findings by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). These findings are featured in the 2018 South Africa Survey of the institute, published by analyst Tawanda Makombo.

He said the improvement aligned with a sharp increase in the rate of “antenatal first visits” by pregnant women. He said the drop in the infant mortality rate (which measures the deaths of infants under 1 year per 1 000 live births in a year) coincided with a 96% improvement in the rate of these visits since 2006.

“The rate of antenatal first visits measures the proportion of pregnant women who visit antenatal clinics for the first time before 20 weeks of their pregnancy over the number of women who had at least one antenatal visit before delivery,” said Makombo.

He said the IRR noted the following aspects relating to improvement:

  • Between 2002 and 2017, the infant mortality rate had decreased from 48,1 per 1 000 live births to 32,8 per 1 000 live births.
  • The rate of antenatal first visits increased by 96% between 2006 and 2016.

Makombo said the statistics revealed telling gains in the health sector in South Africa. He argued, however, that more could be done to further reduce the infant mortality rate.

“The national Department of Health must intensify public awareness efforts and persuade more pregnant women to visit health practitioners for regular check-ups before and after giving birth, as this is essential for their babies’ health.”

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