PROGRESS FOR CHILDREN
New York, 10 December, 2007 -- A new report issued today by UNICEF reveals a wealth of detailed information on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review is the sixth in a series of Progress for Children reports released by UNICEF, and the most comprehensive in scope since the series was launched in 2004.
“This edition of Progress for Children provides comprehensive data on the Millennium Development Goals,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “While the data shows considerable progress, much more remains to be done.”
Following the recent announcement that in 2006 the number of children under-five who die before their fifth birthday declined below 10 million for the first time in recent history, Progress for Children provides data on measures that contribute to improvements in child health, including those that could lead to further reductions in under-five mortality over coming years.
The findings of the report include the following:
- Between 1990 and 2004 more than 1.2 billion people gained access to safe drinking water.
- Between 1996 and 2000, rates of early and exclusive breastfeeding – a behavior that has the potential to avert 13 per cent of all under-five deaths in developing countries - have increased in many countries around the world. Seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa saw 20 per cent increases in early and exclusive breastfeeding.
- Malaria-affected countries have expanded the use of insecticide-treated nets among children, with many of these countries at least tripling coverage since 2000.
- Access to antiretrovirals that reduce the risk of the transmission of HIV and AIDS from mothers to infants increased from 7 to 11 per cent for infected women in low- and middle-income countries between 2004 and 2005. Access to antiretroviral treatment for children also increased in much of the world.
- More than four times as many children received the recommended two doses of Vitamin A supplementation in 2005 than in 1999. Vitamin A supplementation reduces a child’s risk of mortality from common illnesses.
In addition to progress in child survival, progress has also been made in education, gender equality and child protection.
Increases in school enrolment and attendance reduced the number of primary-school-age children out of school by around 20 per cent between 2002 and 2006.
And while girls still remain disadvantaged in some areas, the gender gap in primary and secondary education is closing, with two-thirds of the world achieving gender parity in primary education by 2005.
While the pace of change is slow, the report finds that the harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) has declined over the past 15 years, and that child marriage is becoming less common.
Alongside these successes for children, Progress for Children also provides statistics that give no cause for celebration. For example:
- While the prevalence of underweight children has declined from 32 to 27 per cent in the developing world since 1990, an alarming number of children under-five – 143 million – still suffer undernutrition, with more than half of them in South Asia;
- Treatment coverage for major childhood diseases, such as pneumonia and malaria, has been slow to expand. Pneumonia and malaria together account for 27 per cent of all under-five deaths each year.
- More than 500,000 women still die every year as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. About half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where a pregnant woman has a 1 in 22 chance of dying, compared to 1 in 8,000 in industrialized countries.
- A lack of basic sanitation, along with poor hygiene and unsafe drinking water, still contribute to the deaths of more than 1.5 million children from diarrhoeal diseases each year. In 2004, 41 per cent of the world’s population – 2.6 billion people – did not use improved sanitation facilities. While some progress has been made since 1990, keeping pace with population growth remains a major challenge.
- In many countries, new HIV and AIDS infections are heavily concentrated among young people, who accounted for 40 per cent of the 4.3 million new HIV infections in 2006. Yet this vulnerable group still lacks accurate knowledge about HIV and prevention.
Information on the data
The data and analysis in Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review are based on the ongoing work of UNICEF and its partners to monitor global conditions for women and children. They derive largely from information in UNICEF’s global databases, including data from an unprecedented number of household surveys conducted during 2005-2006, notably the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), among other data.
Progress for Children is being issued the day before a UN General Assembly Special Session that will follow up on the recommendations made in the outcome document of the 2002 Special Session on Children, entitled A World Fit for Children.
For more information
Angela Hawke, UNICEF New York, tel: (+1) 212 326 7269, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Malter, UNICEF New York, tel: (+1) 212 326 7412, email@example.com
Michael Klaus, UNICEF Geneva, tel: (+41 22) 909 5712, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.