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Mortality Among Children Under Five Rises Significantly In Zimbabwe

Reports from Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office and the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, show a significant increase in early childhood mortality.

The Statistical Office’s Demographic Health Survey report shows that child mortality rose from 59 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1985 to 102 for every 1,000 live births in 1999. A UNICEF report said that the under-five mortality rate continued to rise in more recent years, to 129 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004.

Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa was quoted in the government-controlled Herald newspaper Tuesday as saying the rising death toll could be blamed on prohibitive hospital fees. An informal survey of government hospitals found fees for maternity care ranging from Z$53,000 to Z$93,000 - which must be paid up front.

Reporter Blessing Zulu spoke with Dr. Henry Madzorere, secretary for health in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He said many factors have contributed to the rise in child mortality, but the poverty and malnutrition resulting from Harare's economic policies are the most important.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...