TANZANIA has achieved yet another significant milestone by lowering the under-five mortality rate by 36 per cent in just six years.
Improved immunisation programmes, control, and Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI), particularly Pneumonia, Malaria, and Diarrhoea, which are major causes of deaths in children under the age of five, are attributed to the accomplishments.
Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu made the revelation in Parliament yesterday while tabling the 2023/2024 budget estimates for her docket where she asked lawmakers to endorse 1.234trl/- for recurrent and development expenditures.
“The under-five mortality rate has decreased by 36 per cent from 67 per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 43 per 1,000 live births in 2022,” she said.
Ms Mwalimu further said Tanzania is projected to realise the reduction of the under-five mortality rate of 25 deaths out of 1,000 live births by 2030 as entailed by the UN’s sustainable development goals.
IMCI is an integrated approach that aims at reducing preventable mortality, minimise illness and disability of children under five years of age.
The minister stated that between July 2022 and March 2023, the ministry purchased and distributed 94,300 doses of Zinc and Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) for the treatment of diarrhoea, which is equivalent to 67 per cent of the target, and 30.137 million tablets of Amoxicillin soluble tablets for the treatment of Pneumonia, which is 95.5 per cent of the target.
Ms Mwalimu said that by purchasing the medications, it was feasible to increase access to paediatric medications at service delivery facilities by 90 per cent up from 85.3 per cent in the same period in 2022.
“I want to use this opportunity to emphasise that the government purchases Amoxicillin, Zinc, and ORS pills for children under the age of five in coordination with stakeholders and that these medications should not be offered for sale,” said Ms Mwalimu.
The minister also used the opportunity to give specific directives to the Chief Medical Officers of the regions and councils on how to handle the situation.
She said that the ministry increased the capacity of 611 service providers in the eight regions of Mwanza, Tabora, Kigoma, Mara, Geita, Shinyanga, Manyara, and Simiyu in order to improve the abilities of those who administer the treatment under IMCI arrangement.
She stated that the ministry has created a Maternal Health Book to be used to track the mother’s health during pregnancy in order to enhance maternal and child health services. The book is a replacement for the antenatal clinic card (RCH4).
According to Ms Mwalimu, the ministry has also created a new book to track the improvement and services provided to children under the age of five.
The Medical Stores Department (MSD) has been tasked by the ministry to produce the mothers and children’s health books totalling 2.6 million copies (1,300,000 boys and 1,300,000 girls) in order to ensure that mothers and children have access to the books for monitoring the development, upbringing, and development of the child, the minister said.
The minister asserted that since the government had already paid for the books, they would be given free of charge to children under five or pregnant women.