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Lower Number Of Child Deaths Should Be Celebrated, But More Needs To Be Done

UNICEF, the World Bank and the WHO on Friday released a new report (.pdf) showing that the number of early childhood deaths worldwide has decreased by half since 1990, but approximately 18,000 children under age five continue to die daily. The following opinion pieces address the report and its implications.

  • Melinda Gates, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: Noting that the number of deaths among young children has decreased each year for the last 50 years, Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes, “The report is very important from a policy perspective” because “[i]t tells us which children are still dying and what they’re dying from.” She continues, “It also indicates we still have work to do delivering two relatively new vaccines for diarrhea and pneumonia, because they’re still the leading causes of death among children. And it proves we have to pay more attention to newborn health, because as we get better at saving older children a greater proportion of mortality happens in the first month of a baby’s life.” Gates says the successes should be celebrated before engaging in “important conversations about how to make sure health systems deliver all this life-saving care in a single, integrated package that reaches all families at all stages of life” (9/13).
  • Caryl Stern, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: The numbers in the report are “heartening … but they’re clearly not enough,” Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, writes. “The number of children who die from things we can prevent should be ZERO. And it can be. With new vaccines, technology and programs, we can finish the job we started — but only if we work faster, better and together,” she continues. “Just as there is no single reason why children under five die, there is no single solution. But this report demonstrates that simple solutions work, and that now is the time to redouble our efforts,” Stern states, adding, “We won’t achieve any of this, however, without determination and action.” She says readers can sign a letter to President Obama urging action because “[h]ealthy children are more likely to live longer, stay in school and be productive members of their society, creating benefits that reverberate through future generations” (9/13).