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Child mortality rate decreases dramatically but…

Wayne S. Grazio

Extra, extra read all about it!

Hot off the press is a report released by UNICEF showing that there is finally some good news in global child health.

Over the last 25 years, the world has made substantial progress in improving child survival. Today the report released by UNICEF showed the number of children who died before their fifth birthday has dramatically decreased from 12.7 million deaths per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015.

This is the first time this number has dipped below 6 million deaths per year and is an astounding achievement.  


So what’s working?

Safer births: In 2014, 71% of births had a skilled attendant compared to 59% in 1990. However, in 2014 there were still 36 million births occurring in low and middle income countries without a skilled attendant. Ensuring quality maternal care services can save the lives of women and newborns.

Access to essential medicines: Mothers who received antiretroviral medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV reduced new HIV infections by 60% between 2000 and 2014. This also means that these mothers are able to safely breastfeed their children to provide them with the nutrition needed for the first 6 months of life.

Immunisation for vaccine-preventable diseases: The two leading infectious causes of death for children under 5 are pneumonia and diarrhoea, accounting for 17% and 8% respectively. Both these diseases are vaccine preventable and thanks to the rapid roll-out of vaccines and improved treatments for these diseases, rates of infection are decreasing.

Improvements in access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are reducing diarrhoeal diseases. Today more than 90% of the world’s population use improved drinking water sources and two thirds use improved sanitation facilities.

Nearly half of all deaths that occur under five years old occur around birth and the first 28 days of life because of factors such as pneumonia, complications during labour and delivery, diarrhoea, malnutrition and malaria.

A child born in a low income country is on average 11 times as likely to die before the age of 5 as a child in a high income country. This gap is startling and should compel us to do more. The world can’t continue to let this happen.

In recent years, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health launched by United Nations and the Every Woman Every Child movement boosted global momentum in improving newborn and child survival as well as maternal health. With the launch of the Global Goals at the United Nations General Assembly in September this year, the world has a chance to close the child health gap even more.

We have to acknowledge the tremendous global progress since 2000, but too many children are still dying from preventable causes before their fifth birthday. Today’s 53% drop in child mortality still does not meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two thirds. 16,000 children still die every day from preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea and this can stop.  

I hope one day I get to see a world where the place of your birth doesn’t determine your right to a happy, healthy life. If you feel the same, TAKE ACTION NOW and tell the world to deliver essential health services to improve maternal, child and adolescent health.