UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study this week showing the mortality rate of children under the age of five years old has fallen to 7.6 million global deaths in 2010 from more than 12 million in 1990, Reuters is reporting.
Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO explains, “This is proof that investing in children´s health is money well spent, and a sign that we need to accelerate that investment through the coming years.”
Chan continues by saying many factors contribute to reductions in child mortality, including better healthcare for newborns, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, clean water and better nutrition, are just some of the reasons for the reductions in child mortality during this time frame.
Even in portions of the globe that have traditionally been hardest on children, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of improvement has more than doubled, although the number of children who die from preventable causes is still more than 21,000 per day worldwide.
Anthony Lake, executive director of the United Nations Children´s Fund or UNICEF explains, “Focusing greater investment on the most disadvantaged communities will help us save more children´s lives, more quickly and more cost effectively.”
Five countries, India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo account for half of all deaths among children under five years of age with babies being particularly vulnerable, BBC News reports. According to the report, more than 40 percent of deaths in children under the age of five occur within the first month of life and more than 70 percent in the first year of life.
Ian Pett, chief of Health Systems and Strategic Planning at UNICEF, said in a telephone interview with Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters, “There is more attention being paid to what ensures health globally.” For example, he said the government of Sierra Leone in April lifted all fees for child and maternal health, prompting a big improvement in child mortality rates.
“Many other countries are trying to do the same thing,” Pett explained.
Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia give high priority to reducing child mortality, particularly by targeting the major killers of children (including pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and under nutrition) with effective preventative and curative interventions.
Sierra Leone in West Africa, one of the world´s poorest nations, ranks among the top five countries seeing improvements in child mortality in the past decade. The others were Niger, Malawi and Liberia – also in Africa — and East Timor in South East Asia.
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