Statistics South Africa says about 8 million or 15% of the total population of almost 56 million were children between the ages 0 and 6.

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke released a report on early childhood development in Pretoria on Tuesday, based on figures up to 2016.

Maluleke says the report also indicates that child mortality stands at 44 per thousand children born, a decline since 2002.

He says the government’s task is to reduce the child mortality rate to under 25 per thousand by 2019.

“We were sitting in 2002, at 71 per thousand live births, and now we are sitting at 44%. But we are still far from the target. The target is 33 per 1000. So, we still have work to do as a country. And of course again, look at mortality. Our target is 23 per 1000 live birth for 2019. But let us look at where we come from. We were sitting in 2002 at 44 per thousand live births and now we are sitting at 34%, but yet we have to go to 23 and every life that we lose is critical.”

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Maluleke says the percentage of pregnant women who visits health facilities for their sixth day check-up has improved.

He says in some provinces health facilities, including clinics and hospitals, the antenatal visits by pregnant women are still below the target.

Maluleke says the target is to improve visits by antenatal women on ART to above 90%.

“Now, when we look at first antenatal visits before 20 weeks we are sitting at 61 versus a target of 70%. So, actually we’re still working towards the target and of course, post-natal visits within six days are at 76% and the target is 80%. So, we are falling short of the target. Antenatal women on ART are 93% and the target for 2019 is 98%. So, we are falling below the target on all categories.”

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Maluleke says according to the national Department of Health vaccination data, Gauteng, though – the most populous province – has the lowest number of immunised children.

Maluleke says the 2016 childhood development report shows that the number of children immunised with basic vaccination in Gauteng was below the national average.

“In 1998, we were sitting at 63% and now in 2016 we are sitting at 61% as an average. Of course, we can see that the lowest immunisation was recorded by or achieved by Gauteng with 52% and of course, we see here in Gauteng and say we have the best facilities versus the other province like your Free State and Limpopo. And you look at Free State, the coverage is about 80%. Look at Limpopo and the Northern Cape, they are sitting at 67% and 75%, respectively and the Eastern Cape 71%.”

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