MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - Up to 70% of deaths among newborn children in Russia are the result of the poor health of their mothers, a senior health official said Wednesday.
Olga Sharapova, director of the Health Ministry's department of medical and social problems of family, maternity and childhood, said mothers' health needed to be improved if worrying statistics that suggested the child death rate was up to three times higher than in Europe were to be reversed.
"About 15,000 children under one year of age die in Russia every year," she stated, saying that the unsatisfactory condition of mothers was the main reason for the figure.
President Vladimir Putin focused on the country's demographic plight in his May 10 state of the nation address and proposed significant financial assistance to new mothers, which Sharapova said could help mothers, as they would have access to better medical care.
She added that some 50 billion rubles (about $1.9 billion) would be earmarked from the federal budget to improve the health of mothers and children and for subsidies.
"All these measures are expected to increase birth rates to 1.6 million births a year by the end of 2007," she said.