Dr Bhoshan Ori, Health Services Director at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, launched the National Roadmap Framework for Improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, established in partnership with the WHO at the Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes.
The Roadmap aims to promote both a woman-centred approach and an evidence-based approach. Before the Roadmap was developed, the Ministry of Health and Wellness held intensive consultations with stakeholders to facilitate its implementation. During the official launch of the Roadmap Framework, Dr B. Ori, Director of Health Services, pointed out that this important document will allow Mauritius to move a step forward in improving maternal, newborn and child health. Implementing the strategies in the National Framework would contribute to reducing morbidity and mortality among children under 5 years of age to one digit over the next 5 years.
A steering committee has been set up since early 2019 to establish the Roadmap under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. In addition, a technical working group, comprising key health professionals working in the areas of gynaecology, paediatric, demography and statistics, were established to conduct a situational analysis and developed strategies to address the gaps identified.
The fluctuation of maternal mortality between 0.33 per 1000 live births and 0.74 during the ten-year period; the low fertility rate which is below replacement; the high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension among pregnant women; the high prevalence of obesity and alcohol and tobacco smoking and the low average of exclusive breastfeeding were identified as the main gaps and unmet needs.
The steering committee developed new approaches and principles to address the identified problems as remedial measures. These include preconception care, coordination and continuity of pregnant women’s care, data collection and analysis of maternity services, and the development of the necessary tools and capabilities to improve maternally, neonate and child health, and the establishment of an Intensive Care Unit in the five regional hospitals to improve neonate health.
Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius, during his speech, highlighted that the development of the Roadmap on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health is in line with Goal 3 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims at ending preventable deaths of newborns and under-5 children by 2030. He added, “all countries should aim at reducing newborn mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births in every country and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births in every country. Mauritius like other countries needs to accelerate progress to achieve the SDG target on under-five mortality by 2030.”
“WHO is providing necessary tools and guidance to countries, among which we have the WHO international child growth standards, which provide benchmarks to compare children’s nutritional status within and across countries and regions’’, said Dr Musango.
The WHO Representative in Mauritius affirmed WHO’s commitment to supporting Mauritius in its efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health at the three levels of the World Health Organization which is country, regional and global.
Mauritius is being supported by WHO for development of its Nutrition Information System concerning children zero to less than five. The desk review conducted during the scoping mission in 2018 highlighted some key strengths of the current Nutrition Information System including the provision for all children under the age of 5 years to be assessed and their measurements monitored and plotted on their growth charts. The lack of continuity in the growth surveillance system, however, was described as a weakness. In the second week of February this year in Mauritius, facilitator training on child growth assessment and WHO child growth standards will be held to act as mitigation.
Data Source: World Health Organization (WHO)