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 Tuesday, 31 August, 1999, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Childbirth threatens lives of African mothers
Malnutrition is associated with about half of infant deaths
Malnutrition is associated with about half of infant deaths
African mothers are more than 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than those in developed countries, a health conference in Namibia has been told.

"For every woman who dies in childbirth, there are 30 others who suffer from serious and often mutilating or debilitating complications," said Rima Salah, of the UN Children's Fund.

The conference in Windhoek has brought together health ministers and officials from 46 sub-Saharan countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 250,000 mothers die every year in Africa as a result of complications due to pregnancy and childbirth.

Impact of HIV

Three million babies die during pregnancy, labour, birth or the first week of life.

"The rapid and dramatic spread of the Aids epidemic is having a significant impact on infant morbidity and mortality," Rima Salah told the 400 delegates.

Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have 90% of the world's Aids orphans.

The week-long conference is also focusing on the management of childhood illnesses.

More than a million children under the age of five die every year in sub-Saharan Africa of acute respiratory infections, mainly pneumonia, according to WHO.

Another 800,000 die of diarrhoeal diseases, about 500,000 of measles and some 600,000 of malaria.

Malnutrition is associated with about half of these deaths.

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  Imogen Foulkes on the UN and women's rights
BBC Correspondent Imogen Foulkes on the UN and women's rights
See also:

07 Apr 98 | WHO
08 Apr 98 | WHO
07 Apr 98 | WHO
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