In 2012, 6.6 million children across the world died before their fifth birthday. That is 18,000 children a day … or 12 every minute! These alarming figures appear in a report by the United Nations published on Friday. “The majority of these deaths can be prevented by taking some simple measures”, explains Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.
In this report, the United Nations place special emphasis on the trend towards a reduction in infant mortality. With good reason: it has fallen by almost half compared with 1990. In that year, 12 million children under the age of 5 died. “This is a positive trend”, Mr Lake continues. “Millions of lives have been saved. And we can do better still.”
The principal causes of mortality are pneumonia, diarrhoea, prematurity, hypoxia at birth and malaria. “Globally, around 45% of these deaths are associated with undernutrition”, UN representatives continue, in a press release.
Half of these deaths occur in just five countries: China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. India (22%) and Nigeria (13%) account for more than a third of deaths in this age group.
Saving 16 million children by 2025
Globally, a series of initiatives has been implemented to improve access to care for mother and child. This includes, notably, vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles. Strategies are also aimed at improving access to key medication such as antibiotics and oral rehydration salts. The latter are used in the treatment of diarrhoea. A global plan against pneumonia has also been launched. The aim is to save 16 million lives by 2025.
To achieve this objective, Keith Hansen, Acting Vice-President for Human Development with the World Bank is calling on countries to “continue investing to strengthen health systems”. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, adds that global partners are essential to speed up the reduction in mortality among the under-5s at world level. And in sub-Saharan Africa”.
Written by: David Picot – Edited by: Emmanuel Ducreuzet