oa South African Health Review - The context of maternal and child health : maternal, child and women's health : general
Maternal and Child health is a global priority. Numerous treaties, initiatives and programmes have been formulated to try and improve the health and well-being of pregnant women and mothers and their children. The latest effort is the Millennium Development Goals that aim to inspire countries to drastically reduce maternal and child mortality and address specific disease and related challenges by 2015.
International figures currently show that despite the many commitments, the health status of mothers and children remain poor in most developing countries. The same is true for South Africa despite its middle income status. Local data show a steady increase in infant and under-5 mortality, and maternal health status is also not optimal.
South Africa has adopted almost all international treaties, initiatives and programmes. Concerted efforts must therefore be made to rectify and address the core contributing factors to poor maternal and child health. Whilst many of these lie outside of the health sector, the health services have a significant contribution to make and, at the very least, health interventions with known effectiveness must be implemented in the best possible way. In addition, all other sectors need to be held accountable for their role in improving maternal and child health. For children, in particular, all sectoral policies and plans need to be viewed through a child-rights lens, and child impact assessments must be done to ensure that children and their families are not harmed, but enjoy maximum benefit.
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