World leaders have pledged in 2000 to cut the deaths of young children across the world by two-thirds by 2015, but Save The Children said that progess in meeting that goal was “far too slow”.
Poor and marginalised
Nearly all of the 9.2 million under-fives who die unnecessarily – 97 per cent – are from low- or middle-income countries, and disproportionately from the poorest and most marginalised communities within those countries, a report published by the Save The Children Alliance said.
“A child in Europe doesn’t die of diarrhoea, we have to ask ourselves why we aren’t reaching these children [in Africa] with some of these basic interventions”
In Afghanistan, one child in five will die before their fifth birthday, while across the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is one in seven.
“We know what needs to be done – we need to mobilise resources, to invest in healthcare in developing countries, to tackle under-nutrition, and to pay special attention to the plight of newborns, who continue to die in extraordinarily high numbers,” Gomitzka said.
“But we can’t do this alone. Everyone – from world leaders to ordinary families – has a part to play to save millions of lives in the next five years.”
Shantha Bloemen, a spokeswoman for the Sub-Saharan Africa section of the UN’s childrens agency, said that there had been some success in tackling child mortality since 1990, but warned there was no room for complacency.
“What we are seeing in South Africa is that too many children are missing out on some basic health interventions,” she told Al Jazeera from Johannesburg.
“One of the contributing factors to under five mortality is often malnutrition, and we know what we need to do; often it is about making sure a mother is breastfeeding from birth, it is making sure children have safe water sanitation so they don’t get diarrhoea.
“A child in Europe doesn’t die of diarrhoea, we have to ask ourselves why we aren’t reaching these children with some of these basic interventions.”
The report, titled The Next Revolution: Giving Every Child a Chance to Survive, recommends that countries make maternal, newborn and infant survival rates a key indicator of the development success, and urges them to take measures to improve these rates.
The charity said that a survey produced to accompany the new campaign had indicated that 49 per cent of people, in wealthy and developed countries, believed it would cost a staggering $400 billion to make a difference to the child mortality rate.
Asked what they would sacrifice to save the life of a child they had never met, the majority said they would give up at least one meal to save the life of a child.
Nearly one-third of Nigerians said they would sacrifice a day’s pay, while 28 per cent of Italians were willing to sacrifice a holiday and 15 per cent said they would sacrifice a new car.
According to the survey, people clearly identified poverty as the greatest threat to children’s lives. But, those asked in China saw climate change as one of the biggest obstacles whilst Nigeria and Kenya also saw corruption as a stumbling block.