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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs