In the course of just one week, the African country of Zambia made remarkable gains in preventing the deaths of children under the age of five, reducing mortality rates by 30 percent. In a country where 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, a twice a year national Child Health Week is turning grim statistics into hopeful prospects.
During the highly publicized Child Health Weeks, health clinics and community centers set up across the entire country to administer vaccinations, distribute Vitamin A supplements and de-worming pills, and record children’s height and weight. In 2009, free SMS messages were sent out by the leading country’s telecommunications mobile service providers, reminding parents to take their children to the health sites. Recent services have also included HIV/AIDS testing and treatment options.
These national health weeks provide free health services to children under five years of age and strengthen the quality of Zambia’s health care system and services. USAID has been diligently working with Zambia since 2002, helping to reach on average 2 million children per week. Results:
- 82 percent of Zambian children are now fully immunized by age one (for polio, measles, etc.)
- 86 percent of Zambian children now receive Vitamin A supplements
- Two million children de-wormed each year
- Mortality under age five fell 30 percent from 2002 to 2007