Stem the tide

AS South Africa marks National Child Health Week this week, it does so with a sense of poignancy stemming from its erstwhile inability to contain a high infant mortality rate that continues to blight the country's healthcare system.

Reinforcing the blight are research figures showing that about 75 000 children under the age of five years die of childhood illnesses in this country a year. That half of these deaths could be prevented sharply contrasts with its international image as a continental powerhouse and a country with world-class infrastructure.

It is commendable, thus, that the government has launched a campaign to reduce the number of deaths among children. To succeed, though, it must ensure that the initiative is supported by tangible goals and time-frames, to which Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and his team must be held accountable.