Global Child Deaths Dropping - UNICEF Report
17 September 2014 at 9:23 am
International child rights Not for Profit UNICEF has released its annual global report on child mortality, showing preventable child deaths have halved, dropping from 12.7 million to 6.3 million in the last quarter century.
The 2014 Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed progress report indicated the first 28 days of a newborn’s life were the most vulnerable with almost 2.8 million babies dying each year during this period.
One million babies don’t survive the first day the report said.
UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Norman Gillespie said many children’s deaths could be easily prevented with the scaling up of simple, cost-effective interventions before, during and immediately after birth.
“However, analysis points to failures in health systems during the critical time of birth as a significant contributing factor to unnecessary deaths,” Gillespie said.
It also shows there is considerable variation – from country to country and between rich and poor – in the take-up and quality of health services available to pregnant women and their babies.
“Poverty and a related inequality in health care provision are contributing factors to deaths in children under the age of five, but UNICEF data suggests investment in good quality health care has reduced the equity gap in every region, except sub-Saharan Africa, with the poorest of developing countries registering greater absolute gains in child survival than their wealthier compatriots.
“The data clearly demonstrates that an infant’s chances of survival increase dramatically when their mother has sustained access to good quality health care during pregnancy and delivery,” Dr Gillespie said of the report.
“We need to make sure these services, where they exist, are used and that every contact between a mother and her health worker really counts.
“It is deeply heartening that the equity gap in child survival is continuing to narrow. We need to harness this momentum and use it to drive forward programs that focus resources on the poorest and marginalised households; a strategy which has the potential to save the largest number of children’s lives.”
Key findings include:
• Under-five deaths have been halved: from 12.7 million deaths annually in 1990 to 6.3 million today.
• Each day, 17,000 children under the age of five die from easily preventable causes, yet 17,000 is also the number that now survive each day because of health interventions that organisations like UNICEF have rolled out, at scale to improve child mortality.
• About half of all women do not receive the recommended minimum of four antenatal care visits during their pregnancy.
• Complications during labour and delivery are responsible for about 25 per cent of all neonatal deaths worldwide.
• In 2012, 1 in 3 babies (about 44 million) entered the world without adequate medical support.
• Evidence shows that initiating breastfeeding within an hour of birth reduces the risk of neonatal death by 44 per cent.
• Less than half of all newborns worldwide receive the benefits of immediate breastfeeding.
• Quality of care is grossly lacking even for mothers and babies who have contact with the health system. A UNICEF analysis of 10 high mortality countries indicates less than 10 per cent of babies delivered by a skilled birth attendant went on to receive the seven required post-natal interventions, including early initiation of breastfeeding. Similarly, less than 10 per cent of mothers who saw a health worker during pregnancy received a core set of eight prenatal interventions.
• Countries with some of the highest number of neonatal deaths also have a low coverage of postnatal care for mothers. Those countries inclue: Ethiopia (84,000 deaths; 7 per cent coverage), Bangladesh (77,000; 27 per cent), Nigeria (262,000; 38 per cent) and Kenya (40,000; 42 per cent).
• Babies born to mothers under the age of 20 and over the age of 40 have higher mortality rates.
A Promise Renewed is a global movement t set up to advance the rights of ‘Every Woman Every Child’ and was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilise and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.
The movement emerged from the ‘Child Survival Call to Action’ convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. It is based on the ethos that child survival is a shared responsibility and everyone – governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals – has a vital contribution to make.
Since June 2012, 178 governments and many civil society organisations, private sector organisations and individuals have signed a pledge to redouble their efforts, and are turning these commitments into action and advocacy.