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 Post subject: Infant mortality rate on the rise
 Post Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 3:01 am 
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Infant mortality rate on the rise

By Kumudu Amarasingham
DM / 24MAY2006

The infant mortality rate in Sri Lanka is 12 per every 1,000 babies, latest UNICEF statistics revealed.

Maternal mortality rates, according to the Family Health Bureau, were previously much lower, at 46.88 per 100,000 live births.

Infant and under-five mortality rates fell by more than half between 1960 and 1990 overall. In China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam infant mortality fell by three-quarters. However progress slowed in the 1990s. In most regions, a big effort will be needed to attain a two-thirds reduction by 2015, UN sources said.

The main reasons for infant mortality were inadequate immun-isation, war and civil conflict, high levels of poverty and malnutrition, poor access to basic education — especially for girls, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the resurgence of malaria and tuberculosis.

While the national average for infant mortality in Sri Lanka stood at 12 per 1,000 births, Anuradhapura recorded 22.5, Badulla 20.9 and Nuwara Eliya 20.7. These areas also record the greatest poverty levels.

The maternal mortality rate, calculated as the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 live births, was 167.05 for Nuwara Eliya, 116.1 for Batticaloa and 93.65 for Kilinochchi, Jaffna and Mullaitivu.

UNICEF goals include reducing child mortality by two-thirds, from 93 children of every 1,000 dying before age five in 1990 to 31 of every 1,000 in 2015.

About 29,000 children under the age of five — 21 each minute — die everyday, mainly from preventable causes. The majority of these, according to UNICEF sources, are preventable. Some of the deaths occur from illnesses like measles, malaria and tetanus.

Others result indirectly from marginalisation, conflict and HIV/AIDS. Malnutrition and the lack of clean water and sanitation contribute to half of all these deaths.

Almost 11 million children who die each year, including in Sri Lanka, could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets and improved family care and breast-feeding practices.

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