22 Sep 2003

Concern in Marshall Islands over syphilis among infants

4:33 pm on 22 September 2003

There are calls in the Marshall Islands for more to be done about children's health.

Marie Maddison, the executive officer for Women United Together Marshall Islands, says social problems are badly affecting the health of children.

The comments follow recent figures which show that ten percent of the 1500 babies born in the past year contracted syphilis from their mothers, and a measles outbreak killed three and infected 600 people.

Ms Maddison says they want more individualised health programmes for mothers.

"Whenever there are social problems, they are always going to affect the children. So whatever we're doing impacts the lives of the children. Malnutrition is a long-standing issue to this one with high incidences of syphilis. That's what we're working on, a more well-rounded approach, but at the same time be able to reach individuals."

Ms Maddison says the Ministry of Health is getting more non-governmental organisations to run and evaluate awareness programmes.

She says WUTMI is working on several awareness programmes targeting mothers, in a bid to curb deteriorating children's health.