Health for mother and child

All over the world, more than 289,000 women die each year from consequences of pregnancy and childbirth, most of them in poor countries. Millions of women suffer from health problems due to complications during delivery. The reasons are poor medical care and lack of health care workers, such as midwives, doctors and nurses. DIFÄM therefore supports the education and training of professionals and health care workers to secure the lives of mothers and children and to promote their health. We actively involve the local people and support the education of adolescents, who will pass on their knowledge to their peers at school and in their communities.

Worldwide - for mothers and their children

Child health: Still no “all-clear” despite successes

Worldwide, child mortality has been significantly reduced in recent years. The successes must not, however, obscure the fact that still more than six million children die of diseases which are actually easy to treat: pneumonia, malaria, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition. There are many deaths especially during infancy. For this reason, efforts in the field of child health must focus particularly on a child’s first months of life.

Regional differences in child mortality
The successes in the...

Worldwide, child mortality has been significantly reduced in recent years. The successes must not, however, obscure the fact that still more than six million children die of diseases which are actually easy to treat: pneumonia, malaria, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition. There are many deaths especially during infancy. For this reason, efforts in the field of child health must focus particularly on a child’s first months of life.

Regional differences in child mortality
The successes in the fourth millennium development goal are unchallenged. In many countries child mortality has actually been reduced. But whoever goes into the details will note quickly: There are big regional differences. While in developed countries the mortality rate is seven out of a thousand children, in sub-Saharan Africa every day still 17,000 children die before their fifth birthday. Today, the likelihood of dying from measles is significantly lower worldwide than a few years ago, thanks to a good vaccine and good vaccination programs around the world. The most frequent causes of death in children are still pulmonary infections, malaria, diarrhea and malnutrition. All this could be treated quite easily. The least has been achieved so far in the field of newborns’ diseases. 40% of all deaths occurring in the first five years of life are newborn deaths.


Vaccinations, early breastfeeding and training for better health
Many cases of child death can be avoided with very simple means – like for example good medical care during pregnancy. And it makes a difference whether a child is born without the assistance of a midwife, or whether the mother delivers her baby in a health center under expert supervision. Still, in developing countries, only 57 percent of pregnant women give birth with the assistance of a qualified specialist, such as a midwife. And less than half of all newborns are breast-fed early, i.e. immediately after birth. We can improve this situation by means of appropriate programs which start in the villages and are conducted with good success.

Vaccinations
Access to vaccination has also greatly improved over the last few years and we now face the possibility of eradicating the polio; great progress has also been made in the prevention of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Malaria, diarrhea, or pulmonary infections require a quick and correct treatment that should already be initiated in the village. Even if progress has been made, only every fourth child gets a timely and correct treatment for malaria. We successfully tackle these problems together with our project partners.

Great successes despite simple conditions

There are particularly good successes in Chad and in Malawi. This is where women receive specific support so that they can reach a health care center faster and without great expense - either for childbirth or with a sick child. In Kenya, newborns in rural areas are now better cared for.  We also support our partner organizations in the training and further education of their medical and pharmaceutical specialists. They should be able to properly diagnose and treat diseases – also under simple conditions. The continuous support of our partners’ staff is a major focus of our work.

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Contact

Gabi Hettler
Gabi Hettler Consultant Health Services, Leader Team Education Mohlstraße 26 72074 Tübingen Tel. +49/7071 704 90 14 Fax: +49/7071 704 90 39 hettler@difaem.de