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Paediatricians mull solutions to high child mortality rate

Paediatric specialists must do more to develop health workers’ skills in order to reduce the rate of mortality among infants aged 12 months or less.
At present, the mortality rate of children under one year is 40 out of every 1,000 live births. By 2020 the Health Ministry hopes to have halved the mortality rate to 20 out of every 1,000 live births.
Addressing the 14th Lao Paediatrics Continuing Medical Education conference yesterday, titled “Challenges in the Prevention of Childhood Morbidity and Mortality in Laos”, President of the Paediatrics Association of Laos, Associate Prof. Dr Khampe Phongsavath, said he hoped paediatricians attending the two-day session would broaden their knowledge and come away inspired.
While the mortality rate of children aged five to one year had fallen due to efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, it remained high compared to the rates in other Asean countries, he said. This was because of limitations in the knowledge and capacity of paediatric health workers.
Those attending the conference will learn more about the common diseases and causes of death among children admitted to Mahosot Hospital.
The programme also includes shock management in newborns, diagnosis and management of toxic epidermal necrolysis, severe malnutrition management, enhancing hospital-based screening, and early intervention in developmental delay among children under five.
“It is essential to provide more training for paediatricians if they are to save the lives of more children. This conference is an opportunity for all Lao paediatricians to come together to learn and share ideas,” Associate Prof. Dr Khampe said.  
In addition, community health workers should provide more health education by stressing the importance of nutrition and the care of newborns.
“I believe this will gradually help to reduce the death rate of children and help achieve our other goals,” he added.
The Paediatrics Association of Laos continues to improve the skills of specialists twice a year through continuing medical education, especially of young staffers who lack work experience.
One conference participant said the meeting was part of efforts to ensure that sufficient paediatric specialists were available and that skilled birth attendants were present at all births.
This would help to ensure the safety and survival of newborns and the transfer of patients to more sophisticated facilities in the event of an emergency.
Sufficient government budget for human resource development and the purchase of modern medical equipment to ensure accurate diagnosis and good quality treatment in line with regional and international standards is also crucial for the improvement of child health and survival.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update
March 2,

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