Huge strides in tackling polio, measles and malaria have led the fight against child mortality. However, despite the millions of lives saved, almost 19,000 children under 5 still die every day from diseases that are preventable.
“We’re re-focusing on the killers of children that haven’t received enough attention yet.”
~ UNICEF Chief of Health Ian Pett
Those killers include pneumonia, which contributes to 18 per cent of deaths of children under 5, and diarrhea, which is responsible for 11 per cent. Last week in the Million Moms Challenge community, we spoke with the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Radha Muthiah on the impact of indoor cooking smoke on young lungs. We were also joined by Adrianna Lolgalbo, from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition’s Future Fortified campaign and Save the Children Senior Nutritionist Karin Mapping to examine related food and nutrition issues. This is because undernutrition is a factor in one third of all under-5 child deaths. Cleaner cooking, stable food sources and proper nutrition must be tackled in conjunction with water supply, sanitation and hygiene and education for sustainable solutions.
In June of this year, a major conference Child Survival, A Call to Action called for governments and partners to sign A Promise Renewed, a pledge to work toward greater child survival. A Promise Renewed is part of the United Nations Every Woman Every Child movement launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Already, 114 nations – more than half the countries in the world – have signed the pledge, along with 174 civil society organizations and more than 250 leaders from faith-based groups.
“There’s still a long, long way to go…Our ambition is to see no country having an under-5 mortality rate of greater than 20 per 1,000 live births anywhere in the world, and we’re halfway there.”
~ UNICEF Chief of Health Ian Pett.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says, “The global decline in under-5 mortality is a significant success that is a testament to the work and dedication of many, including governments, donors, agencies and families. But there is also unfinished business: Millions of children under 5 are still dying each year from largely preventable causes for which there are proven, affordable interventions.”
He stresses, “These lives could be saved with vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care. The world has the technology and know-how to do so. The challenge is to make these available to every child.”
The Take Action Challenge: You can read the full report here or share the good news and the challenge to do more to keep our promises to the world’s children by liking UNICEF on Facebook, following UNICEF on Twitter (use hashtag #promise4children) and making a donation.