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News: Gender and Sexuality | Social Programs

New Venezuelan Mission Aims to Lower Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates

Mérida, December 23rd 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Wednesday, the Venezuelan government launched its latest social mission. Called Mission Baby Jesus, the program aims to provide better attention to women giving birth by improving hospital infrastructure, increasing the availability of medicine, providing health education for pregnant women and young children, and by building prenatal care houses.

The missions also aims to promote healthy nutrition for women at child bearing ages, and especially for pregnant women and newborn children. It aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality and encourage and increase breast feeding. It will also focus on the health of children under 5 years old including preventative health care and detecting any mental or physical health disabilities.

President Hugo Chavez said that before he was elected in 1998, the average rate of infant mortality as a percentage of total deaths of children under five was 26.72%, and that figure lowered to 16.7% in 2007. He said the aim now is to bring that figure below 10%.

To represent the launch of the mission, today the government inaugurated an intensive neonatal services room in the general hospital of Guatire, Miranda state, which has a capacity to care for 63 newborn babies.

Chavez, speaking over satellite television, told the crowd at the inauguration that from this pilot project they want to consolidate the mission “under the guidance of ALBA,” the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of our America. Cuba and Venezuela initiated the ALBA as an alternative to U.S.-dominated free trade deals in 2004, and the trade bloc now includes nine member nations.

“Cuba and Venezuela, we are the vanguard,” he said, recalling the range of benefits provided by other Cuban assisted health missions in Venezuela, including basic health care, free eye surgery, dentistry and special assistance for people with disabilities.  

“We can’t permit that pregnant women giving birth are ignored or given bad treatment. A woman in this situation should be something sacred,” Chavez said.

The president approved funds of BsF 324 million (US $150 million) for the first stage of execution of the mission, which will last the first half of next year. The funds will be for infrastructure for hospitals in obstetrics, pediatrics, and neonatal care as well as to build special houses across the country for prenatal care.

Included in the allocation of funds is BsF 94 million (US $43.7 million) for renovating labour rooms, operating theatres, and neonatal intensive therapy units in sixty hospitals, 50 of which are in rural areas.

Also included are BsF 50 million (US $23 million) designated to medical, surgery, laboratory and radiology supplies, BsF 100 million (US $46 million) are assigned to “dignified salaries and social security,” and BsF 20 million (US $9 million) to children’s shelters.

Last Saturday Chavez also announced that the Barrio Adentro health mission has, since its formation in 2003, carried out 384,963,965 consultations, of which 174,338,231 were in the poor suburbs. Since January this year, 52,804,044 consultations were conducted, an average of two per person.

Published on Dec 24th 2009 at 9.14am