Although we still have a long way to go, the first year of of the program has seen some impressive gains.
Every year, some 6.9 million children under the age of five die from preventable diseases like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and HIV. Most of these deaths could have be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
That is why one year ago this month, the United States, Ethiopia and India joined the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, to rally the world behind the Child Survival Call to Action, a sustained, global effort to save children’s lives. The goal was to lower child mortality rates in the hardest-hit countries to 20 deaths per 1,000 live births by the year 2035, and to continue progress in those nations already below that rate.
Over 80 governments and dozens of partners representing the private sector, civil society, and faith-based organizations joined the initial effort.
“This high-level forum inspired a global movement -- Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed,” wrote Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Momentum continues to build and, today, 174 countries and over 400 civil society and faith-based organizations have taken up the charge in their own commitments.”
Zambia initiated a plan focused on nutrition and immunization that will save more than 26,000 children each year. The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo is distributing pre-packaged kits of supplies to prevent and treat the most common killers. They hope to save the lives of half a million children by 2015. Similar efforts are taking place in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Yemen, and elsewhere.
Child Survival partner companies are developing life-saving vaccines and treatment for diarrhea. Private sector entrepreneurs and medical professionals are training and equipping health workers in 54 countries with life-saving tools such as affordable resuscitation equipment. Still others are developing and delivering safe water treatment and storage products.
And although we still have a long way to go, the first year of Child Survival Call to Action has seen impressive gains.
Seeing a child die of a preventable disease is the greatest fear of parents the world over. No family should have to live this fear, and no child should have to suffer that fate.