Aug. 21, 2018 -- A newborn baby is taken care of at Gansu Provincial Maternity and Childcare Hospital in Lanzhou in February 2016. (Photo/Xinhua)
Aug. 21, 2018 -- Cooperation with China is expected to significantly help reduce the child mortality rate in Africa, according to an African Union Commission official.
Although the death rate of children under age 5 has fallen by more than half, Africa still has the globally highest mortality rate among children, said African Union Commission official Margaret Agama-Anyetei.
But China and Africa can deepen their cooperation in improving the health of African mothers and newborns in various areas, she said.
Cooperation to end preventable newborn and mothers' deaths was discussed at the China-Africa Cooperation in Maternal and Newborn Health session of the High-Level Meeting on China-Africa Health Cooperation last week in Beijing. The session was co-hosted by the National Health Commission, the United Nations Children's Fund and the African Union Commission.
According to UNICEF, a child in sub-Saharan Africa is nine times more likely to die in the first month than a child in a high-income country, and African newborn deaths account for 38 percent of global neonatal deaths.
Agama-Anyetei said African countries have made progress in that death rate through policies such as Africa's 2063 Development Agenda, but huge room for improvement remains.
Song Li, deputy director general of the National Health Commission's Department of Women's and Children's Health, said China is willing to uphold its international responsibilities to address the maternal and child health issue together with other, especially African, countries.
Over the past 20 years, China has saved millions of children's lives by expanding access to quality primary healthcare nationwide. China is one of few countries that has rapidly reduced both the neonatal and under-age-5 mortality rates in recent decades, according to UNICEF.
"China will ... share the successful experience of its maternal and child health work with African countries. China stands ready to contribute to the improvement of women's and children's health worldwide," she said.
Shahida Azfar, deputy executive director of UNICEF, called upon the governments of China and African countries as well as UNICEF to increase investment in maternal and child health in Africa.