Every Child Deserves More than a Day

By Genelle Adrien

October 20, 2017

A child’s fifth birthday is a big milestone. In Japan, children participate in the cheerful Shichi-go-san (Seven-Five-Three) Festival to give thanks for health and strength. And, in Nigeria, fifth birthdays are celebrated with huge parties and special meals like jollof rice.

A fifth birthday is also a milestone for another reason. When kids around the world reach age 5, they are more likely to reach adulthood and thrive.

A new report we’re reading from UNICEF and its partners shows the progress the world has made towards helping children reach their fifth birthdays and the work that needs to be done so that no child is left behind.

For one million babies born in 2016, their first day of life was their last. Every child deserves more than a day.

Since 1990, the number of deaths of children under age five has dropped—by a lot. Here’s how much: 12.7 million to 5.6 million, or 62%. This great news is worth celebrating!  

Despite this incredible progress, millions of kids are still dying from preventable diseases and lack of access to the building blocks for a healthy life like clean water and nutritious food. Take a look at these stats from just last year:

  • 15,000 children died before their fifth birthday.
  • 6 million newborns died in the first month of life.
  • 1 million newborns died on the first day of life.
  • About 80% of newborn deaths were concentrated in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

These statistics are hard to read. One child death is one too many—especially when many of these deaths can be prevented.

So, what exactly can be done?

For starters, prematurity, complications during labor and birth, and infections like sepsis, pneumonia, tetanus and diarrhea were among the leading causes of these early deaths. Each of these can be treated and prevented with simple and affordable solutions. For children in impoverished families or countries in conflict, these simple and affordable solutions are hard to come by, so it will take the collective action of policymakers, businesses, healthcare workers, communities, families and everyday moms and dads to make a difference.

Policies like the Reach Act and UNICEF’s vast portfolio of work to improve childhood survival are examples of how it can be done. But to make lasting progress, these initiatives need our support. So, let’s get to it!

Take Action Challenge

Let’s work together to create a world where more children celebrate their fifth birthdays.

All photos courtesy of UNICEF.

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