World Health Organization’ s 2019 Statistics report says substantial progress has been made in reducing child deaths since 2000, with the global under-5 mortality rate dropping by 49%, from 77 deaths per 1000 live births in 2000 to 39 in 2017. This is equivalent of 1 in 14 children dying before reaching age 5 in 2017, compared with 1 in 13 dying before age 5 in 2000.
An estimated 5.4 Million children aged less than 5 years died in 2017, of whom 2.5 Million were female and 2.9 Million male. Of these deaths, 2.5 Million occurred during the first 28 days of life. Globally, death rates in the first month of life fell by 41% from 31 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 18 in 2017, a smaller reduction in mortality compared with the 54% reduction in mortality for children aged 1.59 months. Under-5 mortality rates are highest in the WHO African region and in low-income countries, where one child dies out of 14 born. More than half of under-5 child deaths are due to diseases that are preventable and treatable through simple, affordable interventions. The leading causes of death in young children over 28 days of age remain pneumonia, diarrhoea, birth defects and malaria. Rates of death from all conditions are higher in low-income countries, but children in low-income countries are more than 100 times more likely to die from infectious diseases than those in high-income countries.
Children who die within the first 28 days of birth suffer from conditions and diseases associated with lack of quality care at birth, or skilled care and treatment immediately after birth and in the first days of life. Preterm birth, intrapartum-related complications, infections and birth defects caused the most neonatal deaths in 2017.Most new born deaths take place in low and middle-income countries, and two regions accounted for almost 70% of new-born deaths in 2017- the WHO Africa Region and South-East Asia region. WHO says it is possible to improve the survival and health of new-borns by achieving high coverage of quality antenatal care, skilled care at birth, postnatal care for mother and baby, and care of small and sick new-borns. In 2017, male children were 11% more likely to die before the age of 5 years. Boys have a higher probability of dying before reaching the age of 5 years than girls for biological reasons, including less lung maturity at birth and less resistance to infectious diseases. New-born boys often weigh more at birth, but have higher perinatal mortality and more frequent congenital malformations. Immunoregulatory genes linked to the X-chromosome confer greater resistance to infectious diseases on girls, who have two X-chromosomes compared with boys, who have one X-chromosome.
The report further said because boys have a higher biological risk of death than girls, as assessment of gender bias in health outcomes cannot be based on equality of the under-5 mortality rate. Rather, mortality rates close to unity are indicative of female disadvantage. The risk of dying before the age of 5 years is higher in boys in all income groups set by the World Bank and in all regions. However, in the WHO South East Asia Region, the risk is almost equal, indicating high rate of avoidable mortality among females under the age of 5 years. Nutrition-related factors contributed to about 45% of deaths in children under the age of 5 years. Malnourished children, particularly those with severe acute malnutrition, have a higher risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria. In most countries, a higher proportion of boys are malnourished than girls in the age group of 0-5 years.
Sex differences in nutritional status have been attributed to biological differences in morbidity between boys and girls in early life. In addition, boys grow faster during infancy, resulting in greater energy needs. Use of health care services can contribute to differences in mortality rates between boys and girls. However, most studies find that both girls and boys are equally likely to be taken for care when ill, although a bias is observed in some locations.In a United Nation’s Children Fund review, a higher proportion of boys were taken to treatment centres for pneumonia in six countries out of 67 with data, whereas in one of those 67 countries. Hospitalizations for pneumonia, diarrhoea and fever were found to be higher in boys than girls, whereas case fatality rates were higher in girls than in boys, perhaps as a result of greater delays in care –seeking or poorer quality of care. Gender-based discrimination in health care affecting girls is reported mainly from South Asia and China, with sporadic reports from Africa and South America. WHO stressed that vaccines are available for some of the most deadly childhood diseases, such as measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, pneumonia to Haemophilus influenza type B and Streptococcus pneumonia and diarrhoea due to rotavirus. Vaccination rates are similar between boys and girls. Use of pneumococcal conjugate and rotavirus vaccines is lagging, especially in middle-income countries without donor support. Vaccination against both these diseases has the potential to substantially reduce deaths of children aged less than 5 years, because pneumonia and diarrhoea are the leading causes of death in this age group.
Globally, countries with a low under-5 mortality rate have high male female ratio of 31; 32, partly because congenital diseases predominate when mortality is low. Countries with a high under-5 mortality rate have low male female mortality ratios. Both high under-5 mortality rate and low male female ratios are associated with low socioeconomic status and gender inequality. Progress in reducing the under-5 in the male female since 2000 was accompanied by an increase in the M/F mortality ratio from 1.06 in 2000 to 1.11 in 2017, indicating that the decline in the female under-5 mortality rate was faster than that for males. Reductions in the under-5 mortality rate are accompanied not only by higher M/F ratios but also by reduction in fertility. Smaller families reduce the chances of a couple having a child of any givens sex. In societies with a preference for male children, reductions in the under-5 mortality rate have been accompanied by another type of female disadvantage- that is, a disadvantage in nasality- through selective abortion of female foetuses.Increases in the M/F sex ratio at birth have been seen in parts of East Asia, South Asia and the South Caucuses. Male female ratios at birth have been seen to be higher if a couple’s previous children have been female; also, multiparous women are more likely to have prenatal knowledge of the sex of their foetus, resulting in sex selection and more male births than in premiparous women.
A number of actions can be envisaged to address female disadvantage in populations with an atypically high female under-5 mortality rate, including policies to discourage sex-selective abortions, financial incentives to have female children, and policies that address the marginalized status of women or the provision of social protection in old age. The development of policies that will improve child health morbidity and mortality, and more qualitative research that can reveal the harmful gender norms and expectations that result in discriminatory treatment of boys and girls. Female disadvantage is of widespread concern and must be tackled. In addition, the WHO added that the specific needs of boys should be addressed. ‘’boys experience higher rates of mortality than girls in most of the world, and as the under-5 mortality rate falls globally, the M/F mortality ratio is increasing. In countries that have achieved large reductions in the under-5 mortality rate, additional actions may need to be taken to improve health outcomes for boys, to ensure continued progress towards SDG Target 3.2.
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.
The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.
Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)
Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.
“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”
For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”
“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.
Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.
“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.
When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.