The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is backing an Angolan Government initiative to provide better health-care services to expectant mothers and newborn babies as part of efforts to improve maternal and child survival in the poor African country.
UNICEF staff are working with health authorities in five Angolan provinces to implement the project, monitoring local health facilities and providing educational, technical and financial assistance, according to a release issued by the agency on Friday.
The aim of the programme is to deliver health services that are high impact but still low in cost and accessible to women, especially in rural or isolated areas, who would otherwise not have access to such services and would give birth at home without the help of trained health workers.
Expectant mothers are given intermittent preventive treatment for malaria, vaccination against tetanus, voluntary testing and counselling for HIV, education about good hygiene practices, free insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria, and also iron and folic acid supplements.
UNICEF said mothers are given advice on potential danger signs that should prompt them to seek medical assistance for their newborn babies, which are also immunized against tuberculosis and polio.
Improving maternal mortality is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of anti-poverty targets which world leaders have agreed to strive to achieve by 2015.
The five provinces involved in this programme, which is part of a revitalization of Angolan health services that started in 2006, are Bié, Moxico, Huíla, Cunene and Luanda.