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Asia Pacific leads global reduction in child mortality, but world still likely to miss global target


A new UNICEF report examining trends in child mortality shows that, if efforts aren't increased, the world will not meet Millennium Development Goal 4 - the goal to cut the rate of preventable children's deaths by two thirds, by 2015.

NEW YORK, 13 September 2013- A new UNICEF report shows that if current trends continue, the world will not succeed in cutting the rate of under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015 – the target set as part of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000.  On current rates, the global goal will not be reached until 2028.   

This means that as many as 35 million more children could die -- mostly from preventable causes -- between 2015 and 2028, if the global community does not take immediate action. 
 
This information comes from a new report -- 2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed  which examines trends in child mortality since 1990, analyses the main causes of under-five deaths, and highlights national and global efforts to save children’s lives.

The progress made to date is due to the collective efforts of governments, civil society and the private sector, as well as the increase in affordable, evidence-based interventions, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, medicines, vaccines, proper breastfeeding, nutritional supplements and therapeutic food, rehydration treatment for diarrhoea, and improved access to safe water and sanitation, among others.

The report reveals that dramatic improvements in child survival are possible. Globally, the annual number of under-five deaths fell from an estimated 12.6 million in 1990 to approximately 6.6 million in 2012.  Over the past 22 years, around ninety million lives that might otherwise have been lost have been saved.

East Asia and the Pacific has led the world in reducing under-five mortality, with the fastest ever recorded rate of reduction between 2000 and 2005. Since 1990, the region has reduced under-five mortality by over 60 per cent and is one of the few regions that are on track to meet Millennium Development Goal 4.

Just over a year ago, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, together with UNICEF, launched Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, a global effort to accelerate efforts to stop young children from dying from preventable causes. So far, 176 governments have signed a pledge, vowing to move faster on child survival. Hundreds of civil society, religious groups and private individuals have also pledged support for the shared goal of giving every last child the best possible start in life.
 
The report shows sharp reductions in preventable child deaths across all regions of the world, and at all levels of national income, including low-income countries. In fact, some of the world’s poorest countries have made the strongest gains in child survival since 1990.  A few low-income countries with high child mortality rates, such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal and United Republic of Tanzania, have already reduced their under-five death rates by two-thirds or more since 1990, reaching Millennium Development Goal 4 for the reduction of child deaths ahead of the 2015 deadline.

“Yes, we should celebrate the progress,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “But how can we celebrate when there is so much more to do before we reach the goal?  And we can speed up the progress - we know how, but we need to act with a renewed sense of urgency,” he said.  
 
Pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria remain leading causes of child deaths globally, claiming the lives of around 6,000 children under five each day. Undernutrition contributes to almost half of all under-five deaths.
 
The first month of life is the most precarious for a young child. In 2012, close to three million babies died during the first month of life, mostly from easily preventable causes.   

Reversing these devastating trends requires immediate action on multiple fronts, as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals - reducing poverty, decreasing maternal mortality, boosting education and gender equality, and promoting environmental sustainability.
 
“Progress can and must be made,” said Mr. Lake. “When concerted action, sound strategies, adequate resources and strong political will are harnessed in support of child and maternal survival, dramatic reductions in child mortality aren’t just feasible, they are morally imperative.”

Note for Editors:
About Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
A Promise Renewed is a global movement that seeks to advance Every Woman Every Child – a strategy launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around – through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

The movement emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, a high-level forum convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. Partners from government, civil society and the private sector emerged from the Call to Action forum with a revitalized commitment to child survival.

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/eapro
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For further information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Bangkok: +66 (0) 2 356 9406. cdebono@unicef.org

 

 
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