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Nation Home > Health
Infant mortality rate in UAE has dropped by half

Olivia Olarte-Ulherr / 21 November 2013

Infant mortality rate in the emirate fell further to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 births.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) in the UAE has significantly dropped by half in the past two decades. Despite this feat, more needs to be done to reduce this, said senior health officials.

“In 1990, there were 14 deaths out of every 1,000 births. In 2012, this was reduced by 50 per cent to seven from across the UAE. But this is still not acceptable for us, we hope to reduce this to the minimum possible,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, director of Public Health and Research at the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

According to HAAD statistics, in 2011 and 2012, IMR in the emirate fell further to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 births.

“This was a phenomenal achievement,” said Dr Jennifer Moore, head of maternal and child health at HAAD, noting that this reflects the improvement in care of pregnant women and babies.

However, in a survey carried out by HAAD in 2011 called the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), a number of women are still not well-informed about good maternal health.

Dr Moore said only 23 per cent of women who participated in the survey said they took multivitamins everyday during their pregnancy while 89 per cent of women got early pregnancy care. The barriers they cited included no transport, appointment and insurance.

About 75 per cent of them said they received counselling on breastfeeding, 63 per cent on safe medication and a mere 40 per cent were told of the bad effects of smoking. Ninety-one per cent of the new mums have initiated breastfeeding.

At the launch of the ‘Enaya’ (Care) programme on Wednesday, HAAD officials underscored the importance of improving knowledge, behaviour and attitude of pregnant women on having a healthy pregnancy.

Working under the slogan ‘Give your baby the best start’, the campaign focuses on raising awareness on maternal, new-born and infant health-care process. It focuses on three different stages of maternal health — getting ready for pregnancy; having a healthy pregnancy and giving your baby the best start.

The programme will promote the steps needed to reach this goal starting with, pre-conception visits and adequate folic acid intake, to healthy nutrition and exercise during pregnancy. Furthermore, the programme addresses the importance of breastfeeding, new-born screening, vaccinations and post-delivery.

With about 30,000 births in Abu Dhabi every year, Dr Asma Al Mannaei, manager of community, health and surveillance at HAAD, underscored the importance of  “caring for your body way before you get pregnant. We need to bring that concept to women before pregnancy.”

“We are also working diligently on raising awareness on the importance of women to undergo the necessary clinical tests and check-ups before, during and post pregnancy, in order to detect any hormonal disorders or health-related problems at an early stage,” Dr Al Hajeri added.

Dr Moore said HAAD is currently collaborating with private and public hospitals here to develop a comprehensive programme in their own hospitals for maternal and child health.

“We would like this to be a project owned by the hospitals,” she pointed out.

In the coming days, maternity and child experts from the Children’s National Medical Centre, Corniche and Tawam Hospitals will be carrying out trainings for medical personnel about the Enaya programme.

“The safety of both mother and child is a major priority for HAAD, and we will take every stride necessary to help reduce risk factors that could potentially put the lives of women, infants and children of our community at stake,” concluded Dr Al Hajeri.





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