Simple Solutions Can Save Babies in Kenya – Report

Simple Solutions Can Save Babies in Kenya - Report

Kenya’s high newborn death rate of 31 out of every 1,000 live births can be greatly reduced through simple solutions. These include cheap investments in quality care, according to a global action plan launched today at the Partners’ Forum in Johannesburg.

The Every Newborn action plan (ENAP), approved in May by the World Health Assembly, says investing just Sh100 ($1.15) per person every year in 75 high burden countries would prevent three million deaths of women and babies.

Still births in Kenya have been decreasing slowly, but the country still has some of the highest rates in the world, the WHO says.

Still births are deaths occurring in the last three months of a pregnancy.

The report gives two specific targets for all countries to achieve by 2035. These are reducing neonatal mortality rates to 10 or fewer newborn deaths per 1,000 live births and reducing stillbirth rates to 10 or fewer stillbirths per 1,000 total births.

“The day of birth is the time of greatest risk of death and disability for babies and their mothers– contributing to around half of the world’s 289,000 maternal deaths,” the report says.

UN boss Ban Ki-moon said in a statement the progress should well documented. “Let us do all we can to ensure a healthy start for all mothers and newborns. This will open the way for progress across the development agenda and around the world,” he said.

The report says most newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions: prematurity, complications around birth and severe infections.

It says more than 71 percent of newborn deaths could be avoided without intensive care, mainly though quality care around birth and care of small and sick newborns.

This care requires skilled health workers, especially midwives, and essential commodities, such as steroid injections costing less Sh100 per treatment, or cheap resuscitation devices like a bag and mask.

“The Every Newborn Action Plan is explicit acknowledgement that even the smallest and newest babies have a right to live and that we are going to do our utmost to see that they do,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, Chief of Health, UNICEF, and Co-Chair of the Countdown to 2015.

Source: all africa

HRW Finds Toxic Lead Danger in Kenya

HRW Finds Toxic Lead Danger in Kenya

A Human rights organization says thousands of people in a poor district on the outskirts of Mombasa, Kenya, face serious health problems from toxic lead at a former battery recycling plant. The group says at least three workers at the smelter have died and more than 3,000 people are affected by contamination.

As Kenya hosts the first U.N. Environment Assembly attended by global environmentalists, government officials and lobby groups – a community in Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, is facing health and economic challenges from poisonous lead.

Speaking in Nairobi, Human Rights Watch senior environment researcher Jane Cohen said a whole community is under threat because Kenyan authorities have not acted to enforce the law.

“It should not go unnoticed that not far away from Nairobi, the situation in Owino Ohuru Community, which is a tragic example of what happens when economic development is unregulated,” said Cohen.

Lead Danger in Kenya,

Clean-up needed

At issue is a battery recycling plant that opened in 2007. The New York based Human Rights Watch says the plant closed its operations earlier this year and moved elsewhere, but the lead remains in the community and needs to be cleaned up by the government swiftly.

A former office worker at the plant, Phyllis Omido, started organizing protests and writing to relevant authorities asking to move the plant or shut it down.

She said she started her campaign after her son got sick and doctors confirmed he had lead poisoning, a devastating neurological illness that causes severe developmental problems in small children and broader health concerns in adults.

Omido said her campaign was able to prove the battery plant was the source of the contamination.

“We went to the government laboratory and convinced them to run [tests] on some of the children and we picked them randomly,” said Omido. “We could not afford it ,so we took three children randomly from the community all of them tested very high lead levels. And that was in 2009 and we took this to government, the recommendation of the government laboratory that these children were exposed to lead poisoning.”

Human Rights Watch says a government investigation in 2009 found the battery plant had violated regulations. The smelter was briefly shutdown and reopened, but environmental activists say the problems were not addressed.

Former plant workers said they had no protective clothing or gear to deal with the poisonous lead.

Human Rights Watch notes Kenya has strong environmental laws to protect its citizens, but they need enforcement.

Source: all africa