Dr.Avnish Jolly,15 Oct :Children under the age of five face multiple obstacles, including birth injuries, infectious diseases, malnutrition, home environments that lack intellectual stimulation, and environments with polluted water and air. Neonatal mortality has persisted and currently 38 percent of all deaths (4 million) occur during the first month of life.
* Each year, nearly 10 million children die, mostly from preventable and treatable causes.1, 2
* Impressive gains have been made in reducing child mortality in the past 40 years – globally, deaths to children under age five have declined by an average of nearly 2 percent per year over that period.2 But progress has been geographically uneven, with child mortality rates increasing in at least 15 countries and unchanged in at least 13 other countries.4, 5
* Millions of children suffer from short- and long-term adverse consequences of illnesses, malnutrition and injuries that impact their well-being and options in life, including fewer educational opportunities and diminished future economic prospects.6
* Child health is closely related to maternal health, as nutrition during pregnancy, birth conditions, birth spacing, and health status of the mother impact the health of the child prior to, during and after birth. Largely because of these factors, 3.3 million infants are stillborn each year.
In many parts of the world, widespread introduction of simple, inexpensive interventions have successfully targeted the major killers of infants and children. Highly effective and often “low-tech” solutions, as well as improvements in health delivery systems, have enabled rapid declines in child mortality to occur, even in developing countries.
* At least 6.6 million child deaths can be prevented each year, if affordable health interventions are made available to the mothers and children who need them. Cost-effectiveness has been increased by providing packages of interventions that address multiple health issues through known and cost-effective interventions.7-10
* Healthy and well-educated children contribute to the security, economic growth and civil stability of nations.
* Governments of developing and donor nations alike must be motivated to make the necessary investments in children, who are voiceless and powerless. However, such programs are vastly under funded, limiting the services and materials provided to those in need.
In 2000, 189 nations agreed upon eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that provide a framework for improving health, education, gender equity, economic and environmental conditions in developing countries.11, 12
* MDG 4 focuses on reducing the 1990 child mortality rate by 2/3 by 2015; currently few of the 60 high-mortality, high-priority countries are on-track to reach this goal.
* Other MDGs contribute to improving child health by targeting hunger and nutrition, education, gender empowerment for girls, maternal health, infectious diseases and environmental stability.