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Child mortality swells


Mafa Moleko

At least 76.2 out of 1000 children born in the country meet their early demise which puts Lesotho on the top charts of mortality rate in Southern Africa.   

This was revealed by Mapalesa Rapapa, an appointed researcher on the current situations of children in Lesotho who stated that Lesotho made it to the top charts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that among 1,000 births, over 62 children faces mortality with the maternal mortality swelling to 1.024 amongst 100,000 births.

According to Rapapa, some of these numbers are increased due to high rate of births taking place without professional health assistance. Over 22 % of births in Lesotho are reported to be taking place without professional attendance, pointing out that HIV also contributes to the loss of children’s lives in Lesotho.

“Approximately 2.1% of children aged 0-14 years are affected by HIV/AIDS, Mother-to-child transmission remain at 11% while 5.1% of 16-19 years olds currently live with HIV/AIDS compared to 3.5% in 2009. There is a 14% HIV prevalence rate among pregnant adolescence girls aged 10-19 years,” she said.

The studies revealed good feeding strategies as one of the major pillars that can build and maintain the lives of children, however, malnutrition hinders the growth of children thus lowering the potential of survival during birth.

“Although Lesotho feeding programmes are still developing and at a very low standard, a child is granted to consume M3.00 per day and that is very low. The study implies that poverty plays a huge role in making up the life of a child in Lesotho,” she said.

Studies reveal that Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka are leading the country with the extent of deprivation. The two districts hold 85% and 84% respectively while Maseru and Berea hold the lowest position with 59% and 56% respectively. Though not precise this may be the cause for high malnutrition levels in Lesotho.

She continued that as a result, many children turn to be affected by abuse and child labour in Lesotho. Many children who miss the opportunity of education are said to be more vulnerable and likely to be abused in one way or another. Sexual abuse particularly affecting girls staying at home results from missing school.

Rapapa further denotes that missing out on education and poverty plays a vital role in teenage pregnancy and child labour that are very high in highlands of Lesotho. With poverty and teenage pregnancy, Lesotho faces high teenage marriage that dims the chances of these children to go back to school.

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