Raising a Healthy Generation of Kids

Raising a Healthy Generation of KidsRaising a Healthy Generation of Kids

Implementation of two new national schemes ‘Healthy Child’ and ‘Caring for Premature Babies at Home’ will start in August, said Mohammad Esmael Motlaq, head of Population, Family and School Health Office at the Health Ministry.

On the sidelines of a conference on infant growth and development at Evin Hotel on Saturday, he said in the previous calendar year (ended March 19), 1.5 million infants were born in the country of whom 1% were premature (born before 34 weeks) weighing less than 2 kilograms.

“Therefore they were in need of extra help with breathing and feeding,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Stating that the infant mortality rate has declined now to 9.5 in 1000 live births, from 145 in 1000 live births in the 1960s, he said by the end of the next five years the figure is planned to be further reduced to seven.

“Over the next 15-year period, it should reach nearly zero (by preventing avoidable deaths),” he said.

In order to achieve the goal, the new schemes have been developed and the pilot plan will begin in Isfahan from August. If successful, they will be implemented across the country.

The plan will include training courses for all nurses and midwives who have been involved in delivering premature babies. Accordingly, nurses and midwives should visit the preemies’ at their homes regularly to check their health status in terms of breathing, weight gain, breastfeeding, vaccines, and thyroid function. “If necessary, they will refer them to a specialist.”

Motlaq said one of the responsibilities of the ministry is to promote a healthy population and reduce mortality rate. “The ministry should closely monitor physical, mental, emotional and behavioral development of children to ensure that they are on the right track.”

The health status in childhood determines healthy social life in the future. By nurturing children’s physical and mental health “we can guarantee healthy social life and healthy marriages for them in later life,” Motlaq said.

In the ‘Healthy Child’ plan which is a basic package of health services for children, “our goal is to provide basic healthcare to children, particularly those living in deprived areas and city fringes, and our approach is proactive.  Now our health experts in deprived areas don’t wait for mothers to bring their children to them. They go and visit the children,” he pointed out.

According to the last population census (2011), 8.2% of the population is between the ages 0 to 4. Also, 7.5% each are between 5-9 years and 10-14 years.

During the past four decades, the total fertility rate (TFR) declined significantly. The percentage of children aged 0–14 of the total population was 44.5%, 45.5%, 39.5%, 25%, and 23.3% in 1976, 1985, 1996, 2006, and 2011, respectively.