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Sudan One of Most Dangerous Places for Mothers

New York, Oct 27 2009 11:10AM

Sudan is one of the world’s more dangerous places for mothers, the top United Nations Children’s Fund ( official there said today, calling for increased maternal care services.

Some 26,000 women in Sudan – with a population of over 40 million – face death annually giving birth, UNICEF Representative Nils Kastberg said, compared to fewer than 10,000 maternal deaths per year in the entire Latin American and Caribbean region which is home to 550 million people.

The maternal deaths in Sudan are “preventable,” he stressed to reporters in the capital, Khartoum. “It is a question of stopping the bleeding in time; it is a question of having the health staff where they should be; it is a question of health staff washing their hands; it is a question of her being close to a place where she can receive care that could save her life at the moment of giving birth.”

The UNICEF Representative, who took up the post last month, said that during a recent visit to a Sudanese town he saw 20 tanks but only one ambulance, which is only in operation six months out of the year due to the heavy rains.

He also sounded the alarm on the deaths of 305,000 Sudanese children under the age of five every year due to preventable causes, with over one-third losing their lives in the first 28 days of life.

Further, while six million children are in school, nearly three million are not, he pointed out at today’s press conference at the headquarters of the UN Mission in Sudan ("><"">).

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Mr. Kastberg said that he hopes that over the next three years, maternal and child mortality rates will be slashed by one-third through the provision of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and other measures, with school attendance jumping up by one-third.

“Sudan, more than ever, needs peace,” he underscored.

With most of the world’s violence caused by men and not women, “I think we need a call to all Sudanese men to assume a greater responsibility of understanding how their actions cause harm to women and children and I hope that can make a huge difference,” the official said.

“Let’s have more ambulances and less tanks.”


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