News / Health

UN: Child Mortality Rate Reduced by Half

Women holding children wait for a medical examination at the health centre in Gbangbegouine village, western Ivory Coast, July 4, 2013.
Women holding children wait for a medical examination at the health centre in Gbangbegouine village, western Ivory Coast, July 4, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
A new report says the number of global deaths among children under age five is almost half what it was 22 years ago.  A joint report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization,and World Bank finds about 6.6 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday in 2012 compared to 12 million children who died in 1990. 

The report calls the progress being made in cutting child deaths remarkable.  However, it says this is still not good enough.  It says most child deaths are preventable, and that by applying a number of simple, affordable measures, more children’s lives can be saved.

Elizabeth Mason, director of the World Health Organization's department of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, says the first 28 days of life are critical for a child’s survival.  That, she says, is inextricably linked to the care the mother receives during pregnancy and, most importantly, the care she receives during labor, childbirth and the early hours of the baby’s life.

“We have new low-cost solutions that can reduce deaths of pre-term babies by up to three-quarters.  And these include anti-natal corticosteroid injections to the mother when she goes into pre-term labor, kangaroo mother-care where the baby is literally put into a pouch, but next to skin-to-skin care, next to the mother’s chest so that the baby can keep warm and can have early access to breast milk,” said Mason. 

The leading causes of death among children under five years old include pneumonia, prematurity, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria.  Globally, WHO says about 45 percent of under-five deaths are linked to under-nutrition. 

The report says about half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries-China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.  It notes sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest child mortality rates in the world, with 98 deaths per 1,000 live births.

It says a child born in sub-Saharan Africa faces more than 16 times the risk of dying before his or her fifth birthday than a child born in a wealthy country.  At the same time, the report says the pace of decline in the number of annual deaths has quadrupled since 1990.

Mark Young, a senior adviser on health at the U.N. Children’s Fund, says overall economic development is helpful in reducing child mortality, but poor countries that have a good strategy can make significant gains. 

He cites the case of Niger, one of the poorest countries in West Africa.  Two decades ago, he says, Niger had the highest rate of under-five mortality in the world.  This, he says has been cut by nearly two-thirds.

“They have done this through a series of targeted, focused, government-led initiatives that UNICEF has supported," he said. "They instituted a free health care policy for women and children, abolished user fees, so increased financial access.  They expanded geographic access by establishing a series of rural health posts… staffed by community trained health workers to deliver essential maternal-newborn child health services at the peripheral level.  They implemented a series of integrated mass campaigns to deliver a package of high impact preventive interventions.” 

The package includes childhood immunization, vitamin A, and insecticide treated nets for malaria.  Young says Niger also has set up an emergency nutrition program to address child malnutrition.

The report notes other countries are also implementing life-saving interventions.  It says Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Tanzania, Bangladesh and states in India are following strategies to reduce child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea, which together kill two million children each year. 

These interventions providing antibiotics and oral rehydration salts, introducing new vaccines against these diseases and ensuring access to sanitation and safe drinking water.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Babu G. Ranganathan
September 13, 2013 11:54 AM
PREVENTION AND HEALING OF DISEASE: Numerous scientific studies at universities and colleges have shown that the Aloe vera plant contains a myriad of nutrients (i.e. various vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids) which all together help prevent various diseases and to heal disease.

Read my popular Internet article, CHEMOTHERAPY SUCCESS WITH ALOE VERA! This is a must read article for all those diagnosed with cancer or who have a loved one who is. Just google the title to access the article. There are properties in aloe vera that greatly strengthen the immune system and help protect the immune system and healthy cells from being destroyed by chemo and radiation. The result is that the cancer cells are destroyed while the immune system and more of the healthy cells survive. The properties in aloe vera also help chemo/radiation patients suffer a lot less side effects from the chemo/radiation treatments.

Numerous scientific studies at universities and colleges have shown that the Aloe vera plant contains a myriad of nutrients to help prevent various diseases and to heal disease.

Babu G. Ranganathan
(B.A. Bible/Biology)

THE BEST WEAPON AGAINST GERMS OF ALL KINDS is colloidal silver. Germs, including viruses of all types, cannot develop resistance to colloidal silver. Please read my Internet article, PROTECT YOUR BODY WITH COLLOIDAL SILVER. Just google the title to access the article.
Babu G. Ranganathan
B.A. Bible/Biology

by: walla richard from: Douala_cameroon
September 13, 2013 11:50 AM
African leaders should sit up and try to handle this problem amicably, rather than base their ideas on corrupt practices in their various countries. Leaders, should look into the future with a lot of concern.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs