China joins hands with UNICEF to increase access to lifesaving health services for almost 59,400 mothers and children in West Darfur in Sudan
Khartoum, 29 June 2022 – With generous support from China, UNICEF Sudan implemented the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Project under the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund. At the closing ceremony Mr. Ma Xinmin, Chinese ambassador to Sudan, and Madam Mandeep O’Brien, UNICEF Sudan Representative, announced the completion of the “Maternal, newborn and child health project”.
In Sudan, far too many infants – and their mothers – die from preventable or treatable conditions. While there has been a significant reduction in under-five mortality from 128 (1990) to 60 (2018) per 1,000 live births, the same cannot be said for neonatal mortality, which remains at a worrying 29 per 1,000 live births. Neonatal deaths now account for almost half of child deaths in Sudan.
Further, an estimated 295 mothers per 100,000 live births die during childbirth. Most of the deaths are due to home deliveries without the presence of skilled birth attendants and a lack of emergency obstetric care at medical facilities.
To address these critical issues, UNICEF Sudan, with generous support from the Government and people of China, worked to improve access to quality ante- and neonatal healthcare services for women and children in West Darfur state through the 'Maternal, newborn and child health project'. West Darfur has the third-highest neonatal mortality rate in the country and low coverage of basic services.
The project improved access to early essential and emergency newborn care services to 59,400 newborn children and their mothers in West Darfur state by increasing the availability of high-quality safe delivery and newborn services.
"Improving maternal and child health is high on the agenda of the Government of China. This project not only benefited from financial support but also from technical support through knowledge exchange with health workers on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality," says Ambassador Ma Xinmin of China.
China’s technical expertise demonstrated workable solutions and built capacities and ownership of local health workers through the knowledge exchange programme. Thanks to the support from China, 49 medical doctors and nurses were trained in essential and emergency newborn care, as well as 111 community midwives. In addition, health supplies benefited more than 18,000 pregnant women and newborns. A total of 52,399 individuals were provided with essential information and care during pregnancy, childbirth, and after delivery.
"UNICEF works around the clock to ensure that every girl and boy has the best start in life. The project in West Darfur allowed us to train over one hundred community midwives who now support their communities for a lasting impact. Investing in life-saving healthcare for newborns and their mothers is key to ensuring children survive and thrive for which we sincerely thank the Government and people of China," says Mandeep O’Brien, UNICEF Sudan Representative.
UNICEF Sudan is now looking to expand the project to other states so that more mothers and their children have increased access to lifesaving healthcare services.
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