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Reducing child deaths and planning next steps

05/02/2014

A number of reports and statements in 2013 concerning child deaths led to some degree of optimism in various quarters, as progress was recorded in several key areas of this worldwide effort.

For example in September 2013, the UN reportedpdf  that the number of children dying each year had almost halved between 1990 and 2012, from 12 million to 6.6 million.

Reducing child deaths and planning next steps

A number of reports and statements in 2013 concerning child deaths led to some degree of optimism in various quarters, as progress was recorded in several key areas of this worldwide effort. For example in September 2013, the UN reportedpdf  that the number of children dying each year had almost halved between 1990 and 2012, from 12 million to 6.6 million. 

Positive news and results

Around this time, leaders from WHO member states further discussed the issue of child deaths during a UN General Assembly, to find ways to accelerate progress in the area of child and maternal health by the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline and afterwards. It was pointed out that some countries made positive advances, notably by increasing investments, training workers and scaling up various immunization and treatment campaigns.

In line with these efforts, various leaders in the fight against tuberculosis launched the ‘Roadmap for childhood TB: towards zero deaths’ in October 2013. The roadmap aims to reduce the number of preventable childhood deaths from tuberculosis: according to estimates, about 74,000 children die each year because of the disease. This could be avoided by investing about US$ 120 million annually to combat tuberculosis. Ten actions were recommended, namely collecting and reporting better data, developing training material, but also engaging key stakeholders and communicating with them effectively. 

Some challenges remain

Despite the efforts and progress recorded so far, some of the MDGs remain far from being realised. This is due partly to the existence of a number of barriers and hindrances. The main challenges highlighted by campaigners and expert include the exclusion of the poorest children, as well as the fact that many infants do not survive pas their first month of life. Some advocate universal healthcare as a means to reduce exclusion, while recommending that other issues such as education, sanitation, violence against women or early marriage be dealt with to help improve global child and maternal health. Another potential solution highlighted by experts is the widening of civil registration (that is, registering all births and deaths). This would create better data to improve the understanding of women and children’s deaths. In turn, countries particularly affected by the phenomenon could better target future investments to reduce the number of preventable deaths.

 

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