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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid