Awa Marie Coll Seck
Senegal's Health Minister
Breaking the Wall of Child Mortality. How Immunisation and Malaria Control are Saving Senegal's New Generations
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to be here, and I would like to add another word to this: I really realised that it is a victory of freedom, but also a victory for Germany, a victory for the world. I was saying to my students at this time: you need to be proud, because you are part of this world, but you also need to learn from that. Today I would like to speak with you about another wall, which is the one of child mortality. What we have seen for a long time is that we have a real wall between the children from the North and those from the South. Those from the South are dying everyday because of preventable diseases. But let us first go to what we mean by child mortality. We need to all agree on the fact that child mortality is all the people dying in an age under-five, and this is really per thousand live births per year. But I will also use other terms like ‘infant mortality’, and this is just for those between 0 to 1 year, and also ‘neonatal mortality’, because it is also those between 0 to 28 days. All these are important, because we will see that we often need other types of strategy in function of the different groups. Reducing child mortality is also one of the Millennium Development Goals. It is the fourth Millennium Development Goal, along with maternal mortality, but also a lot of infectious diseases, like HIV/Aids, malaria, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. What is the aim of this reduction of child mortality? It is to reduce by two thirds the under-five mortality rates from 1990 to 2015. I would like to stop here on two issues. The first one is that when we are at looking child mortality, we need to correlate it with state failure. All the countries, where you have difficulties in stability or a lot of corruption, a lot of problems, you have also a very high rate of child mortality. But also, when we look at the physical quality of life index, this is also one of the indicators, but we have also life expectancy and we have also the level of literacy in a country.
What I am saying today is something very different than what we have heard since the beginning, because here is a real problem and a real life in the developing country. But we know that we need to use research; we need to use new technologies if we really want to accelerate what we are doing. Here I would like to say that we are doing our best to ensure that we will be achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those on health. We would like to see children from Senegal to be with the children of other countries in the North, looking at their future, and having hope that they will survive; and they will be the people of tomorrow. Thank you.