News / Africa

Millennium Villages Shown to Cut Child Mortality

Sauri Millennium Village, KenyaSauri Millennium Village, Kenya
x
Sauri Millennium Village, Kenya
Sauri Millennium Village, Kenya

A new report in the medical journal The Lancet shows a sharp decline in child mortality rates in 14 African villages taking part in the U.N.-backed Millennium Village Project. Project officials say the findings are evidence that tackling several development goals at the same time using simple, low-cost solutions is vital for successful development.

In the Millennium Village of Sauri in western Kenya, about 80 babies out of 1,000 die within the first month after they are born. That number may seem high, but six years ago, up to 140 babies out of 1,000 might not live past their first month.

James Wariero is regional health systems advisor at Millennium Development Goals Center, East and Southern Africa. He describes one of several initiatives that the Sauri community has taken to cut down on the babies' deaths.

"We use a mobile telephony for a public health program that we started called 'Child Count Plus,' through which community health workers track mothers who are pregnant, and track the antenatal visits that they take, and know the expected date of delivery. That way, you try to prevent this problem of delays by ensuring that these mothers are referred early enough for delivery, and that they are accompanied sometimes by the community health workers," said Wariero.

Sauri is one of 14 so-called "Millennium Villages" in 10 countries across Africa, a project that began in 2006 to show how communities could implement the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals. These goals include: cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half; ensuring that children everywhere get free primary education; and reducing by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate.

Economist and professor Jeffrey Sachs is founder of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs says that each community works on improving their agriculture, health care, education, infrastructure and business development, simultaneously.

"In each of the Millennium Villages there is a small team that has somebody responsible for each one of those sectors," said Sachs. "The team works together to bring improved technologies and strategies to bear in these areas."

His initiative is starting to show results. This week, the medical journal The Lancet published a study that found death rates for children under five declined 22 percent on average across nine Millennium Villages in the first three years of their operation. When compared with similar communities in the 10 countries, the decline was 32 percent.

"Malaria control surely has played an enormous role in this reduction of child mortality. One of the first steps in the Millennium Villages is to ensure that every sleeping site in every household has an anti-malaria bed net, that is a bed net treated with insecticide to protect against bites from the malaria-carrying mosquitoes," added Sachs.

Also contributing to the decline in child mortality were front-line malaria medicines, improved nutrition, the delivery of oral rehydration solutions in diarrhea cases, and immunization against pneumonia.

Regional health systems advisor Wariero says members of the Sauri village are continually looking at ways to improve their health care and other programs. He says one measure is the so-called "verbal autopsy," where a trained health-care worker armed with a smartphone visits the homes of children who died.

"We are trying to see the clinical causes of death, but also try to see the social causes of death: the delays, whether there was a lack of money, a lack of transport, whether there was belief in cultural things that may have prevented them from seeking care earlier," said Wariero.

He says the information collected helps health care workers to spot any trends and modify or implement new programs to prevent child deaths.

Founder Sachs says that the Millennium Villages Project also shows that not much money is needed to significantly lift up a community's living standards. He says that, in the first three years of the project, total spending for each villager in the 14 Millennium Villages was $115 per person - not a lot, he says, to develop health care, education, agriculture, business, and infrastructure.

"But small amounts of money can go a long way in very impoverished settings by helping people who have almost nothing to be able to gain access to these critical technologies, life-saving medicines or prevention techniques like the bed nets or to build new classrooms for their children," noted Sachs.

The Millennium Villages Project is led by the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, the United Nations Development Program and the New York-based non-profit organization Millennium Promise.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs