New York, 13 September 2013: Some 35 million more children under five at risk if child mortality goal not met
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 meet Millennium Development Goal 4 – to cut the rate of under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Worse, if current trends continue, the goal will not be reached until 2028.
The cost of inaction is alarmingly high: 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 to accelerate progress.
That is the bad news. But the report provides many points of good news as well. It demonstrates 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, the world saved around ninety million lives that might otherwise have been lost.
“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.
Globally, the pace of decline has accelerated with the annual rate of decline tripling since the 1990s. Sub-Saharan Africa has also accelerated its rate of decline, with its annual rate of reduction increased more than fivefold since the early 1990s. In the past seven years, Eastern and Southern Africa has been among the best performing regions in the world, reducing under-five mortality at an annual rate of 5.3 per cent in 2005-2012.
Country progress examples
• In Bangladesh, under-five mortality rate decreased by 72 per cent from 1990 to 2012, mainly thanks to expanding immunization for children, delivering oral rehydration therapy to treat diarrhoea, and providing Vitamin A supplementation. Expanding a network of community health workers also improved the quality of healthcare and led to an increased use of health facilities. Women’s empowerment, education for mothers, improving mothers’ health and implementing strategies to reduce poverty also contributed to reducing child deaths.
• In Brazil, under-five mortality rate decreased by 77 per cent between 1990 and 2012, thanks to a combination of tactics. These include efforts to deliver healthcare at the community level, improvements in sanitation conditions, providing mothers with knowledge, promoting breastfeeding and expanding immunization.
• Ethiopia, a co-sponsor of the Call to Action, has recorded tremendous gains in reducing the under-five mortality rate, with a dramatic 67 per cent reduction since 1990. The health extension programme implemented in Ethiopia is one example of how critical community health workers are in providing quality care to children and mothers in remote areas. The programme which was launched in 2004 currently deploys 38,000 government-paid female health extension workers. UNICEF supports the programme by providing supplies including vaccine storage equipment, delivery beds and medications, and supporting training for health workers. The programme also provides treatment of severe acute malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.
About Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
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.
Attention broadcasters: Recent video news stories and b-roll from Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia and Uganda will be available at http://weshare.unicef.org/mediaresources
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