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Dying young, very young

Feb 13, 2008

UNICEF’s report: The State of the World’s Children 2008, provides a comprehensive picture of the current state of child survival and primary health care for mothers. The report gives an assessment of factors affecting child health and outlines the approaches to reduce under-five mortality rate.

Maximum newborn deaths occur in South Asia. About a quarter of the total newborn deaths in the world occur in India alone.

To help African countries achieve MDGs for child survival, the World Bank, the World health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have prepared a joint framework in the form of the report: The State of the World’s Children 2008.

The current focus of the development community in relation to child survival is MDG 4, which aims to reduce global mortality under five by two-thirds between 1990-2015.

To achieve this, the bulk of the efforts need to be carried out in the poorest countries, among the most impoverished and marginalised communities of the world.

The report identifies 60 priority countries where weak governance, conflicts, AIDS and dismal state of public health systems have affected children the most.

The report examines the causes of maternal and child mortality, role of community partnerships to address bottlenecks in health care facilities and delivery across the globe.

It proposes simple, low cost practical solutions by inviting partners from all arenas – governments, corporate groups, civil society networks and individuals – to join the movement for child development.

Expanded interventions in the form of immunisation programmes, greater distribution of oral rehydration therapy, provision of mosquito nets have improved the child and maternal health a lot.

The report also takes into account the lessons learnt from evolving health care practices since colonial times like mass disease control campaigns, the Bamako Initiative in Africa that aimed at creating financial viability and equity of health services, sector-wise approaches, etc.

It underlines the importance of child survival as it forms the backbone of a prosperous and progressive nation. Investment in children is also pragmatic from economic perspective.

The report argues that progress towards other health related MDG is mixed. Nutrition, maternal health, combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases, use of safe water and sanitation have to be linked. Women need to be empowered to advance maternal, newborn and child health.

Geographic barriers are no hurdle in saving children. The need is to expand evidence base, harness sufficient resources, sound strategies, and a strong political will to improve the quality of life.

Source : UNICEF
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