Child and maternal mortality 'remain big problems in Africa'

Despite life expectancy and healthcare improving across the world in recent years, child and maternal mortality rates remain stubbornly high in parts of Africa.

The Global Burden of Diseases Study 2010, which was presented at the Royal Society last week and is now published in The Lancet, shows that maternal, infant and newborn mortality remain urgent concerns on the continent, alongside infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Christopher Murray from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) told SciDev Net there is still "a large fraction" of people dying because of these illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

He said as much as 70 per cent of the disease burden there is still taken up by Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 (to reduce child mortality; to improve maternal health, and to combat HIV/Aids and other diseases).

"Studies such as this ... are essential if countries are to be better informed about their health priorities and how these are changing," said affiliate professor of global health for the IHME lan Lopez.

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