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$40B Needed To ‘Dramatically’ Reduce Millions Of Child Deaths Annually, Report Says

Two million infants die within 24 hours of birth each year and almost nine million children died before the age of 5 in 2008, according to a report by Save the Children, which says it would take $40 billion annually to “dramatically” cut these numbers, Agence France-Presse reports (Mohiuddin, 10/5).

Most of the millions of children that die before their fifth birthday die from preventable or treatable diseases, including diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia, Save The Children said, Al Jazeera reports. In addition, 97 percent of those children are “from low- or middle-income countries, and disproportionately from the poorest and most marginalized communities within those countries,” the news service writes.

“If people really understood how affordable and feasible it is to prevent these deaths, they’d be shocked,” Charlotte Petri Gomitzka, secretary-general of Save the Children, said about the release of the report, which also coincides with the launch of a campaign. “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 (10/5).

India Has High Infant Mortality Rate

The report includes research from 14 countries, which showed that “India’s child mortality statistics were particularly stark, with 72 deaths per 1,000 live births,” AFP writes (10/5).

Despite it’s “economic growth,” India “has failed to reverse” its infant mortality rate of more than 400,000 infant deaths within 24 hours of birth, “the highest number for any country,” Bloomberg writes (Shankar, 10/5). According to Save the Children, “India accounted for a fifth of infant deaths worldwide,” the BBC reports. “A lack of skilled health workers – both at a child’s birth and in the months after – left children there vulnerable to problems that could be prevented or treated for a ‘very small investment,'” Adrian Lovett, the organization’s campaign director, said (10/5).

According to Reuters, the report finds that based on current trends, India will only meet U.N. Millennium Development Goal targets related to child health by 2020, five years past the deadline. “Poor countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Peru and the Philippines that are on track to meet MDG explode the myth that the costs of reducing newborn and child mortality are high,” said Thomas Chandy, Save the Children’s chief executive (Chandaran, 10/5).