"In the past two decades, we’ve seen huge reductions in under-five mortality. But we must do better.”
On January 16th, the Government of Ethiopia convened a meeting of African Ministers of Health and global experts aimed at accelerating reductions in preventable child deaths through sharper national plans and improved monitoring and evaluation.
The African Leadership for Child Survival – A Promise Renewed conference, follows last year’s Child Survival Call to Action, which was co-convened by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States with UNICEF and launched a global roadmap to end preventable deaths of children under five.
The Call to Action challenged countries to lower their national rates of child mortality to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035. Under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed over 165 countries have since pledged to scale up efforts to end preventable child deaths.
The African continent shares a significant global burden of newborn, child and maternal deaths. Of the 3.5 million such deaths per year in Africa, more than 1 million are newborns. But a few African countries have already reduced their under-5 mortality rates to below 20 per 1,000 live births. Additionally 11 high mortality countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including meeting host Ethiopia, have reduced their under-five mortality rates by more than half over the last two decades.
Setting the stage for the meeting, Ethiopia's Minister of Health Kesetebirhan Admasu said: "We are at a crucial juncture in our final sprint towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and the 2035 vision of ending preventable child deaths. Much will depend on country-level leadership and action on child survival. I strongly believe we can only accelerate our progress if we renew our commitments and live up to providing increased sustained and more harmonized leadership and support."
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah provided a clear message to participants: "Your leadership and dedicated focus is an essential part of this unified effort. It is wonderful to see so many countries gathered together to focus on how to sharpen national plans and develop scorecards to strengthen monitoring and evaluation. The work you are doing will continue when you return to your capital cities—and USAID stands ready to support you."
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in another message: "In the past two decades, we’ve seen huge reductions in under-five mortality. But we must do better.”
African Leadership for Child Survival will seek to give the global movement, Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, greater momentum and sustain the gains that have already been achieved in Africa. Together with non-governmental organizations, the private sector and faith groups, countries are united around a simple premise: that every child everywhere deserves to reach their full potential.