UNICEF has already published its annual report about the child survival in the World. They have named it “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed”, because, as Anthony Lake, its executive director writes, “there is much to celebrate”, but still help is needed. This is why their promise to help the children all over the world has been renewed.
More children now survive their fifth birthday than ever before ― the global number of under-five deaths has fallen from around 12 million in 1990 to an estimated 6.9 million in 2011 (according to UNICEF). All regions have shown steady reductions in under-five mortality over the past two decades. In the last decade alone, progress on reducing child deaths has accelerated, with the annual rate of decline in the global under-five mortality rate rising from 1.8% in 1990-2000 to 3.2% in 2000-2011.
The gains have been broad, with marked falls in diverse countries. Between 1990 and 2011, nine low-income countries — Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda — reduced their under-five mortality rate by 60% or more.
But any satisfaction at these gains is tempered by the unfinished business that remains. The fact remains that, on average, around 19,000 children still die every day from largely preventable causes. With necessary vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care, most of these young lives could be saved.
As the message of this UNICEF report makes clear, countries can achieve rapid declines in child mortality, with determined action by governments and supportive partners. Their progress over the last two decades has taught UNICEF that sound strategies, adequate resources and, above all, political will, can make a critical difference to the lives of millions of young children.
This report concludes that “the unfinished business of child survival remains substantial, but extraordinary progress is possible in reducing under-five deaths in all regions and mortality settings. Many countries have managed to sustain high rates of reduction over more than two decades; indeed, more than half have already reached low-mortality status”.