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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid