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The State of the World’s Children

© UNICEF/ HQ06-1698/Sittie Monabe Maongko
Child’s View – One-year-old Fahlavi Maongko drinks from a green cup in the village of Layog in Maguindanao Province. This photograph was taken by her sister, Sittie Monabe Maongko,
UNICEF’s Flagship Publication Maps Out Strategies to Boost Child Survival

22 JANUARY 2008 – UNICEF’s flagship publication, launched today, focuses on child survival and proven strategies that could slash child mortality around the world.

The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival, calls on development partners to step up investment in health systems and promote a continuum of care for mothers, infants and children that starts at the community level.

The positive impact of simple, affordable life-saving measures, such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin A supplementation, has helped to reduce child deaths in recent years, leading to a drop in the number of annual under-five deaths.  However, more than 26,000 children under the age of five continue to die each day. The report looks at the need to integrate and scale-up essential health interventions through the provision of community-based health services. It calls for a sustainable continuum of care for mothers, newborns and young children backed by strong national health systems to save lives.

Without concerted action to scale-up essential services and buoy national health systems, the world will not meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to slash under-five mortality by two-thirds by the 2015 deadline. Failure to reach the MDG target on child survival will reduce the chances of reaching other interconnected goals – such as poverty reduction. Experience shows that investing in the health of children and their mothers is one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future.

Nowhere is the need for life-saving strategies more apparent than in sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, one child in every six dies before their fifth birthday. In 2006, almost half of all under-five deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, even though it accounted for less than one quarter of the world’s live births.

The report provides information on a strategic framework developed by UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank – at the invitation of the African Union – to help African countries and others reduce the toll of maternal and child deaths. The framework calls for: 

• Good data to inform policies and programmes;
• A shift to combine disease-specific and nutrition interventions in integrated packages to ensure a continuum of care;
• The mainstreaming of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition into national strategic planning processes to scale up and strengthen health systems;
• Improved quality and increased, predictable financing for strengthening health systems;
• Political commitments to approaches that provide a continuum of care; and
• The harmonization of global health programmes and partnerships.

Related press releases and news notes:

11 December 2006  - Empower Women to Help Children



Related links

The State of the World's Children reports

Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World's Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children. The report includes supporting data and statistics and is available in French and Spanish language versions.

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