Friday, 12 June 2015

State of the World’s Mothers

Kenya is among the countries showing the greatest survival gap between wealthy and poor urban children, reveals Save the Children’s 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers report, entitled ‘The Urban Disadvantage’.

Despite making overall success in saving children’s lives, the report shows that child survival gaps have roughly doubled in urban areas of Kenya between 1990 and 2013.

Kenya’s ranking on this index has improved slightly. Last year, it was placed 143 out of 178 countries. This year, it is 138 out of 179 countries.

According to the report, in the slums of Nairobi, maternal and child mortality rates are 45-50 percent higher than the national average. This is attributed to poor quality of emergency obstetric care services combined with inadequate essential equipment, supplies, trained personnel and skills owing to the burgeoning privately owned, substandard, often unlicensed clinics and maternity homes in slum areas.

“As this year’s report on the State of the World’s Mothers shows, one of the worst places in the world to be a mother is in an urban slum. Poverty, and the social exclusion that goes with it, leave the urban poor trapped in overcrowded, makeshift or decrepit housing with limited access to affordable health services. These difficult living conditions contribute to very high mortality rates for mothers and young children living in Kenya’s informal settlements,” said Duncan Harvey, Save the Children Country Director.

The State of the World’s Mothers 2015 report focuses on one vulnerable group of children that urgently needs more attention – those living in urban poverty.

Save the Children’s report for the first time evaluates the often huge differences in under-five death rates and health care coverage for rich and poor urban children in developing countries. This effort represents the first major international effort to identify urban child survival gaps in developing countries.

“It focuses on the hidden and often neglected plight of the urban poor and presents the latest and most extensive analysis to date of health disparities between rich and poor in cities,” he continued.

The State of the World’s Mothers report further shows that 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This figure is projected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. Most of this increase will be in Africa and Asia.

In the developing world, one third of urban residents live in slums – over 860 million people. If this percentage remains the same, the number of slum dwellers in the developing world could reach the 1 billion mark by 2020.
WHO estimates that nearly a billion people in the world live in urban slums, shanty towns, on sidewalks, under bridges or along the railroad tracks.

The Millennium Development Goals have unquestionably been good for public health. The annual number of young child deaths, stuck at more than 10 million for decades, has fallen by half since 1990. Compared to 1990, at least 17,000 fewer children are dying every day. The global under-5 mortality rate has been cut by 45 percent during the same period, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births

Uganda’s and Ethiopia’s cities of Kampala and Addis Ababa top East African cities closing child survival gap between rich and poor. These cities have improved conditions for all children and national urban data suggests that they are closing the gap in survival between well-off and poor children under the age of five. They are increasing access to basic maternal, newborn, and child services; raising health awareness; and making care more affordable and accessible to the poorest urban families.

Among capital cities in high-income countries, Washington, DC has the highest infant death risk and great inequality. Babies in D.C.’s lowest income neighborhood (Ward 8) are 10 times more likely to die than babies in the wealthiest part of the city (Ward 3).
The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) defines a slum household as one that lacks one or more of the following conditions: easy access to safe water in sufficient amounts at an affordable price, access to adequate sanitation in the form of a private or public toilet shared by a reasonable number of people, security of tenure that prevents forced evictions, durable housing of a permanent nature that protects against extreme climate conditions and not more than three people sharing a room. 

The report is issued at an opportune time as the international community transitions to a new development agenda. December 2015 will mark the end of the first set of Millennium
Development Goals and will also be the launch of the post-2015 framework (sustainable development goals).

Save the Children’s 16th annual Mothers’ Index assesses the well-being of mothers and children in 179 countries – more than in any previous year. It evaluated data from dozens of cities in developing countries and 25 cities in industrial­ized countries