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Child mortality: Argentina improving but still not ranking top in LatAm

Health Minister Juan Manzur celebrates that child mortality rates are decreasing in the country.

Better rates than in Brazil but the country still does not rank top in Latin America

Argentina has been improving its mortality rates over the past decades, as it was revealed on Friday by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Although the country’s rates are better than other countries in the region, including Brazil, Cuba still has the better numbers.

In 2000, all the countries agreed that child mortality rate had to be reduced and according to The Lancet, many nations have been doing their best to improve those rates. However, there is much to do yet.

According to The Lancet, Argentina between 1990 and 2013 reduced its child mortality rate by 3.1 every year. According to the journal, there are 14.2 under five child deaths per 1,000 births.

In Brazil, there are 18 child deaths per 1,000 births and the rate has reduced in a 4.6 percent annually between 1990 and 2013.

However, the other country’s neighbours have a better record. In Chile, 7.4 deaths of children under five are reported every 1,000 births; in Uruguay, the number climbs to 10.9. Between 1990 and 2013, Chile reduced children mortality in a 4.2 percent every year whereas in Uruguay the improvement reached the 3.4 percent.

The country ruled by Evo Morales is still having problems with rates. In Bolivia, there are 41.9 child deaths per 1,000, whereas in Colombia, the number grows to 17.9. However, Bolivia has been able to reduce child mortality in a 42 percent since 1990.

In socialist Cuba, there are 5.7 child deaths per 1,000 births. Due to the island’s medical policies, from 1990 to 2013, the rate dropped 3.9 percent annually.

Comparing the results with developed Canada, it is clear that statistics have to be improved. In Canada, 5.4 children under five die every 1,000 births and there are only 2,100 reported deaths.

In African countries, rates show a need for better social policies. In Rwanda, for instance, there are 62.5 child under five deaths per 1,000 births. But the mortality rate has been reducing in a 4.2 percent every year since 1990.

Argentina celebrates

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Health Minister Juan Manzur yesterday praised the results achieved in the country and said that he wanted to reduce the rate of child mortality to 2.5 per 10,000 births.

However, according to the brief published by The Lancet, that goal is far beyond expectations. According to the experts, by 2030, the European countries will have a rate of 0-2 child deaths per 1,000 births. They estimate that Chile’s rate will be between 3-4 and Argentina’s will be in 5-9 as well as Uruguay and Brazil, which was not included in the survey.

“After years of stagnation, maternal mortality has also been reducing in the last four years,” Manzur added.

According to the minister, in the last decade — when the country was ruled by late former president Néstor Kirchner and his wife — maternal mortality was reduced by 34 percent.

Manzur explained that the statistics collected in 2012, show that there are 3.5 maternal deaths per 10,000 births. “We are getting closer to achieve the Millennium goals,” he celebrated.

“The Washington University and The Lancet, the top medical journal in the world, are acknowledging that Argentina and other countries have been reducing child and maternal mortality. This gives us energy to deepen the policies started in 2003, which made it possible this reduction in both indicators,” the minister added.

In 2009, Manzur and current Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich — then Chaco province governor — started a programme to reduce maternal and child mortality. Then other provinces, including Santiago del Estero, Formosa, Misiones, Jujuy, Entre Ríos, La Rioja, Buenos Aires, Catamarca, San Luis, Tucumán and Mendoza, also took part in the initiative.

“Those are the ones which have been improving their records,” the minister highlighted in reference to provinces ruled by Kirchnerite leaders.

According to Manzur, the situation improved during the last decade because the government devoted more resources to build hospitals and to hire more doctors.

“If the number of maternal schooling grows, the rate of child mortality descends. In Argentina, more than 1,800 schools have been built since 2003. Results are visible,” the minister concluded.

In coincidence with Manzur, The Lancet explained that maternal education was the key factor in South America to explain the reduction in child mortality.

Herald staff with Télam

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