To cut child mortality and raise overall care, the United Nations Children's fund has suggested that developing countries should play an active role alongside global partnership.
UNICEF noted in its "State of the World's Children Report 2008" that awareness of child mortality and other global health issues is at an all time high thanks to the efforts of new public-private initiatives such as the GAVI alliance that promotes vaccinations, and the Roll Back Malaria campaign.
AdvertisementHowever, "it has been argued that global partnerships are often donor- and commodity-driven rather than country- and people-centred," the report said.
"A frequent focus on single diseases has sometimes meant an over-reliance on vertical interventions and insufficient emphasis on integrating services and strengthening national health systems."
"Developing countries must take the lead and 'own' the solutions to their health problems," the report urged.
This must involve tackling discrimination against poor people and women in particular, it said.
"In far too many countries, to be poor automatically means to be neglected and marginalised by the health system."
"Others are excluded from essential services and practices on the grounds of gender, disability, race or ethnic origin," the report noted.
Health programmes must be integrated into strategies and policies that tackle the root causes of discrimination and exclusion, it said.
UNICEF announced last month that child mortality rates are at an all time low, with the number of children dying before their fifth birthday falling below the 10 million mark in 2006.
It also estimates though that more than 500,000 women still die every year as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, with about half of these deaths taking place in sub-Saharan Africa.
Much more needs to be done to cut these deaths, and the new report highlights four simple measures which can easily be adopted and promoted: exclusive breastfeeding, immunisation, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin A supplements.
These measures are likely to have a "marked impact on child and maternal survival outcomes in the coming years," the report said.
"Community-level integration of essential services for mothers, newborns and young children, and sustainable improvements in national health systems can save the lives of many of the more than 26,000 children under five who die each day," UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman said.
To this end, healthcare should be tailored to the needs of individual patients and treat them as active participants in their own treatment rather than just passive recipients.
"Empowering individuals to assume a measure of responsibility for their own health -- and that of their families -- can have a profound and lasting impact on development," the report said.