Curbing maternal deaths high on KZN’s priorities

Pretoria: The reduction of maternal, neonatal and child mortality will be the focus for the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government over the next five years.

Delivering the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Friday, Premier Senzo Mchunu said despite persistent poverty, the province has seen a significant decline in the number of children underweight for the under-five age group from 44 per 1 000 in 2010 to currently less than 14 per 1 000.

The province has also seen a decline in the under-one year mortality rate from 10.8% in 2010 to a current 7.3%.

“We have seen a maternal mortality in facility ratio of 138 per 1 000 births, down from 195/100 000 in 2010. Life expectancy for males is up from 49 to 54 and for females from 50 to 59,” Premier Mchunu said.

The province will accelerate prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by reducing vertical transmission. It will speed up the implementation of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality in Africa.

The province will also accelerate the implementation of Phila Mntwana campaign at community level to expand the reach for children under five years and ramp up TB screening and treatment in children in this age group.

“We aim to reduce the number new HIV infections by 50% by 2016 and reduce the impact of HIV and Aids by expanding access to an appropriate package of treatment care and support to 80% of all people diagnosed with HIV,” Premier Mchunu said.

Toyota, a business partner in the fight against HIV and Aids has through its involvement in the Provincial Council on Aids, donated two specialised vehicles to boost the fleet that will be used by field teams to reach every ward in the province.

Sustainable human settlements

Premier Mchunu said the 2014/15 financial year has seen a number of success stories in delivering sustainable human settlements for different segments of the South African population.

“We have seen a decrease in the housing backlog from 17.9% in 2010 to now a 13% backlog, with just under 100 000 having been built over this period; 22 316 housing units have been completed and 2 998 sites have been serviced in the last year, of which 12 923 units were delivered in rural areas in the last year.”

Over 7 420 housing units were completed and handed over last year as part of the programme aimed at eradicating slums and upgrading informal settlements.

To date, the Vulindlela People’s Housing Process, where the community is involved in building their own homes, has built 2 349 houses. Great progress has been made in the further development of the Cornubia project.

Ensuring steady social support

Over 1.7 million beneficiaries received grants at various pay points in the province during the past year.

In expanding access to early childhood development (ECD) services, 146 ECD centres and 52 programmes have been registered in terms of the Children’s Act.

“Two new non-centre based programmes also received financial support and ECD Stimulation Toy Tubs were distributed in the Ugu, UMkhanyakude, UMzinyathi, Zululand and iLembe districts,” said Premier Mchunu.

Last year, the province reviewed the KZN Disability Strategy in collaboration with the disability sector.

“As part of expanding services to persons with disabilities, we have started piloting the roll-out of a community-based rehabilitation programme in three districts – Umzinyathi, UThukela and Amajuba.

“Awareness programmes on children and youth with dyslexia, autism and persons with albinism were conducted in eThekwini Metro to inform people about such disabilities,” said the Premier.

To further support communities in need, the province started the KZN Poverty Eradication Strategy in 2014. It developed the Poverty Eradication Master Plan (PEMP), which was approved the Provincial Executive Council on 3 December 2014. This was adopted by a lekgotla on 20 February 2015.