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    [A possible objective from now to the year 2000: reduce infant mortality in the third world by half] Un objectif possible d'ici 1' an 2000: reduire de moitie la mortalite infantile dans les pays du tiers-monde

    Berthet E

    Hygiene Mentale. 1984 Jun; 3(2):41-9.

    Every day 40,000 children die throughout the world, most of them in developing countries. There is a close relationship between infant mortality, life expectancy at birth, the adult literacy rate and national income per capita. Why such huge differences between the infant mortality rate of 7/1000 (live births) in Sweden and 208 in Upper Volta? The 4 scourges which afflict developing countries: hunger (malnutrition), disease, ignorance and poverty are responsible for this state of affairs. The author suggests that coordinated action by governments and International Agencies should be taken to halve the infant mortality rate by the year 2000. He notes that in the past 3 mistakes were made which should not be repeated. The 1st was to improve the living conditions of the population. The green revolution in India provides a striking example of an important progress which benefited only the wealthier farmers. A 2nd mistake was to believe that only a medical approach reduces the infant mortality rate. A 3rd error was to overlook the importance of health education and not to seek the active participation of the people concerned. The author recalls that the International Union for Health Education carried out a sanitary and social program from 1975 to 1978 in Africa, south of the Sahara. To this effect, the IUHE had to find out what the people really wanted, whether they could be motivated to increase the welfare of the villagers by measures adapted to existing possibilities, and to study how the people could recruit health workers among the villagers and train them to create village health committees. 4 weapons used together should reduce the infant mortality rate by 1/2 in the developing world before the end of the century. They are: the promotion of breast feeding, the extended coverage of vaccinations, the early detection of malnutrition and the treatment at hoem of diarrheic diseases thanks to oral rehydration. (author's modified) (summaries in ENG, SPA)
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