The causes of child deaths are widely known, and the tools to prevent them are available. Nonetheless, some 7.6 million children, or 57 out of every 1000 live births, still die before they reach their fifth birthday, most of them in Africa and south east Asia.
In mid-June, representatives of 80 governments, the private sector, NGOs, civil society and faith-based organizations met to launch the Child Survival Call to Action: a sustained, global effort to lower child mortality rates, especially in high-risk countries, and to work towards eliminating preventable child deaths.
We have set a big goal, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
“We are all here today with one vision: To make sure every child everywhere lives to see his or her fifth birthday.”
But how do we speed up our progress to “make sure that one day all children, wherever they’re born, have the same chance to survive?” asked Secretary Clinton. “We need to agree on a new way forward, a new global roadmap for reducing child mortality.”
We will focus our efforts in the countries where child mortality rates are the highest. Eighty percent of children’s deaths occur in 24 countries, but those countries don’t receive nearly 80 percent of global support or funding.
We will identify those populations where children are suffering most, and tailor our responses to their specific needs.
We will prioritize treating illnesses that claim the most lives: pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and pre-term and neonatal complications.
We will consider broader social and economic factors that are closely linked to high child mortality. The strengths of families and communities can mean the difference between life and death.
And by ensuring mutual accountability and transparency, we will be able to evaluate our efforts.
“In the 20th century, the world came together to eradicate smallpox. We are close to finishing the job on polio,” said Secretary Clinton “If we meet the goal we are committing to today, if we make sure that every child everywhere has the same chance to reach his or her fifth birthday, then we will have added another story to the short list of the greatest things people have ever done for one another.”