SA child health boosted
PATH, a global, non-profit, health organisation, and BHP Billiton, a leading, global, natural resources company this week announced the launch of the Window of Opportunity project, a five-year initiative to transform early childhood health and development in South Africa.
Mother and child death rates remain high in this country with estimates of maternal mortality far exceeding the rate needed to meet the country's Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
With support from a R200m grant from BHP Billiton's Sustainable Communities charity, the project will work to improve critical health and development services for 750000 pregnant women and children in South Africa and Mozambique.
Child mortality rates in developing countries have declined in recent decades, but large numbers of children continue to die from preventable causes, including diarrhea, malnutrition and pneumonia.
Early childhood - especially between birth and two years of age - represents a critical window of opportunity to shape the long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional health and development of children.
In recent years, Mozambique and South Africa have significantly increased the allocation of public-sector resources to health and have adopted policies that reinforce the important coordination of early child health and development services. Both countries are committed to meeting their MDG commitments.
Despite the existence of expanded resources and forward-thinking policies, however, both countries have struggled to develop local capacity to implement these polices and engage communities around integrated child health, nutrition and development.