South Africa’s Maternal and Child Death Rates “Unacceptably High”

South Africa’s maternal and child death rates remain unacceptably high said BHP Billiton chairperson Xolani Mkhwanazi at the launch of an early childhood development project on Tuesday.

“This is a serious concern, and calls for responsible leadership towards creating components of sustainability for future generations to enjoy an improved quality of life,” he said.

The project, headed by BHP Billiton in collaboration with the non-profit organisation PATH, is a five-year initiative to transform early childhood development in the Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape provinces. Its focus will be on improving health care services for new-borns and children up to the age of two as these were the most important time of a child’s life in determining future development.

Women and Children Minister Lulu Xingwana was present at the launch as well as Deputy Director General Dr Yogan Pillay who both praised BHP Billiton’s efforts and urged more private companies to get involved in projects such as these in conjunction with government to improve the lives of those people living in rural areas.

BHP Billiton expects the five-year project to impact and aid the health and development of nearly one million pregnant women and children.

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