Life expectancy in the UAE is 76 years and the mortality rate among children is down to 5.43 per cent, the Minister of Health said yesterday.

"Infant mortality registered 7.7 per 100,000, while deaths in children under five recorded 9.8 per 100,000 in 2004.

"Those accomplishments were possible because of the application of the comprehensive national health programmes adopted by the ministry," assistant undersecretary for the Preventive Medicine Department, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, who delivered the speech on behalf of the Minister of Health, Hamad Al Midfa said.

The minister's comments were said during the inauguration of a health exhibition organised by the Ministry of Health (MoH) at Abu Dhabi Mall to mark World Health Day (WHD).

This year's theme is Don't Underestimate Mothers and Children's Role in Society.

"Mortality rates among mothers have decreased to 0.01 to every 100,000 born children because of the development of a health care programme for pregnant women, which has resulted in high birth rates by 99 per cent in hospitals under direct medical supervision," Al Midfa said.

Citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) 2005 report, the minister said a shortage in medical care for women during pregnancy had led to half a million women per year dying worldwide.

He said other types of preventive diseases such as bronchitis, diarrhea, malaria and measles, HIV/Aids and malnutrition had also led to the death of 10.6 million children below the age of five annually.

Mortality rates in sub-Saharan African nations was recorded at 99 per cent among these women and 90 per cent in children.

In the Middle East, mortality rates in children below the age of 15 are estimated at 1.5 million, while 53,000 mothers die annually as a result of pregnancy and complications while giving birth, he said.