Saturday May 25, 2019

Bangladesh Government Responds to UNICEF Report on Infant Mortality

Bangladesh believes comparatively the country is more advanced than other countries regarding reducing child mortality rate

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Bangladesh
Children in Bangladesh. Wikimedia
  • The study, “Narrowing the Gaps, The Power of Investing in the Poorest Children,” found that for every U.S. $1 million spent, the number of deaths averted was 168, compared to 92 in non-poor groups
  • Over a 25-year period beginning in 1990, Bangladesh saw its infant mortality rate fall from 144 per 1,000 to 38 per 1,000, according to UNICEF figures released in 2015
  • The UNICEF report said most deaths could have been prevented with practical low-cost interventions

Dhaka, June 30, 2017: A Bangladesh government official and a physician said the country was cutting its infant mortality rate, but better programs and hospital services were needed to see even lower numbers.

The two spoke in response to a report of 51 countries released Wednesday by UNICEF that supports its prediction seven years ago that investing properly in poor children can save lives.

“Children growing up in poverty are nearly twice as likely to die before reaching their fifth birthday as children growing up in better circumstances,” the report said.

The study, “Narrowing the Gaps, The Power of Investing in the Poorest Children,” found that for every U.S. $1 million spent, the number of deaths averted was 168, compared to 92 in non-poor groups.

Over a 25-year period beginning in 1990, Bangladesh saw its infant mortality rate fall from 144 per 1,000 to 38 per 1,000, according to UNICEF figures released in 2015. This represents a 74 percent drop in infant mortality among Bangladeshi children aged five years and under.

Dr. Md. Jahangir Alam Sarker, director of primary health care at the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said he expected to see more improvements.

“Comparatively Bangladesh is more advanced than other countries regarding reducing child mortality rate. We are on the right track,” Sarker told BenarNews. “But we could not spread-out nationwide programs yet. For example, we could not start special-care units for infants in all hospitals.”

“We have undertaken many programs to reduce child mortality, but we could not reach many at the grassroots level,” he said. “Those programs are spreading out. We will get results soon.”

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Preventable deaths

The UNICEF report said most deaths could have been prevented with practical low-cost interventions including: oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea; early immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases; primary and community-based health services such as skilled birth attendants to reduce complications during labor and delivery; and care-seeking by parents of young children to treat illness.

It praised the Bangladesh government for setting up community clinics at the village level to provide free routine health services while improving water, sanitation and hygiene.

Pediatrician Kaniz Hasina Sheuli, who also is a professor at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said more can be done to save sick children, pointing out that not all Bangladesh hospitals are equipped properly to help them and more skilled nurses are needed.

“We could manage to control child diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea, but still death rate of the children with birth defects is 4 percent,” she said.

“Usually we operate surgery immediately after the birth of those infants with defects. Intensive care units (ICU) are required for these of surgeries, but public hospitals lack this support,” Sheuli said. “Available ICUs are not sufficient. As a result, everybody doesn’t get this benefit.” (Benar News)

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East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health

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skin-lightening products
FILE - Aranmolate Ayobami, plastic surgeon at Grandville Medical and Laser clinic in Lagos, holds a tube of Skinlite a skin lightening product used at his clinic, on July 17, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

East African countries are set to ban skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent linked to health problems when used in high concentrations. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution calling for a region-wide ban on the manufacturing and importation of products containing hydroquinone.

At a beauty parlor in Arusha, 52-year-old Rose Mselle has been using skin-bleaching products since she was a teenager. She says women like her want to be beautiful. “And in the process of looking for beauty, or for our skin color to shine, we use things that we shouldn’t,” she added.

At a nearby market, 32-year-old clothing vendor Janet Jonijosefu used skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent used to treat dark spots, for years. She stopped after her skin became fragile.

She said the beauty products containing hydroquinone badly affected her skin. She started developing patches on her face. She went to the doctor and was advised to stop using products containing hydroquinone and instead use aloe vera.

skin-lightening products
FILE – A shop sells skin-lightening products in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2018. VOA

Skin-lightening products often use high concentrations of hydroquinone, which can cause skin problems or become toxic when mixed with other bleaching chemicals.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa ban or regulate the agent in cosmetics. Tanzania bars imports. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution on a region-wide ban of hydroquinone’s manufacture and importation.

Suzan Nakawuki, a member of the regional assembly from Uganda, noted that hydroquinone is not only used by women but also men. “We have seen men bleaching seriously even more than women,” she said. “But it’s becoming a problem. If we don’t regulate it, it is going to become very problematic.”

When used medically, hydroquinone can be an effective treatment for skin discoloration. Some East African lawmakers spoke out against a blanket ban. Aden Abdikadir, a lawmaker from Kenya, said he is concerned a blanket ban will cause “serious trade disruption” for cosmetics.

skin-lightening products
If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. Wikimedia Commons

If signed by heads of state, the ban becomes law in all six East African Community states, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Critics point out bans on hydroquinone have failed to stop smuggled products from being sold openly. Cosmetics labeled as having hydroquinone are on display at shops in Arusha.

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. (VOA)