Young child survival and development

Published on UNICEF childsurvival, by Amy Bennett, NY 13 September 2007.

The world has reached an important milestone on child survival. For the first time in modern history, the number of children dying before the age of five has fallen below 10 million per year.

New survey figures reported by UNICEF today show solid progress, with worldwide child deaths at a record low of 9.7 million per year – down from almost 13 million in 1990.

This achievement will add momentum to the push toward the Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2000. Reaching MDG 4 – a two-thirds reduction in the 1990 under-five mortality rate by 2015 – would avert an additional 5.4 million child deaths annually.

Basic health interventions:

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman called the new figures “historic” but also stressed the work that remains to be done. “The loss of 9.7 million young lives each year is unacceptable,” she said. “Most of these deaths are preventable and, as recent progress shows, the solutions are tried and tested.”

In fact, much of the progress reflected in the new child mortality figures is the result of widespread adoption of basic health interventions such as early and exclusive breastfeeding, measles immunization, vitamin A supplementation to boost children’s immune systems, and the use of insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria.

Proper treatment of pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and severe malnutrition, and treatment of paediatric HIV/AIDS, are also important for child survival – as are hygiene promotion and access to safe drinking water and sanitation … (full text).

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