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35 million children under five at risk of death without accelerated global efforts – UNICEF Report

2013-09-12

TORONTO, 12 September 2013 - Two reports released today by UNICEF indicate that global efforts to end preventable deaths of children under five years of age are seeing results but millions of children are still at risk. Data released today by UNICEF and the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation show that since 1990, child mortality rates have been cut in half dropping from 12.6 million deaths per year in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012.

“The success we have seen since 1990 in bringing an end to preventable child deaths means that 90 million children lived to see their fifth birthdays who otherwise would have died, “ said David Morley, UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO. “90 million families celebrated a birthday instead of attending a funeral.”

According to the 2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed which examines trends and causes in child mortality estimates, the rate of decline of child mortality has also quickened over the past years. The rate of decline is three times faster than it was in the early 1990s showing that renewed efforts, such as those made through the Canadian-led Muskoka Initiative, are having an impact.

The report shows sharp reductions in preventable child deaths across all regions of the world, and at all levels of national income, including low-income countries. In fact, some of the world’s poorest countries have made the strongest gains in child survival since 1990. Seven high-mortality, low income countries – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Timor Leste and the United Republic of Tanzania – have reduced their under-five mortality rates by two-thirds or mores since 1990.

While global efforts are saving lives, the progress being made is not fast enough to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 by 2015. At the current rate of decline the goal to cut under-five mortality by two thirds is unlikely to be reached until 2028 and an additional 35 million children will die who otherwise could have been saved.

Pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria continue to claim lives unnecessarily and almost half of the children who die do so in the first month of life. Increased efforts are needed to ensure children have access to life saving interventions such as medicines, vaccines, insecticide-treated bed nets, oral rehydration salts and zinc no matter where they live. Children and mothers must be properly nourished and have access to safe water and sanitation. Mothers must have access to health care to support safe pregnancy, labour and delivery.

“18,000 children are dying every day of preventable causes. The sheer scale of human loss is not only astounding but also shameful,” said Morley. “But when concerted action, sound strategies, adequate resources and strong political will are harnessed, a dramatic reduction in child mortality isn’t just a possibility – the past 20 years have proven it will save children’s lives.”

Visit www.unicef.ca/promise to read both reports for additional information about efforts to end preventable child deaths.

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About Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed

A Promise Renewed is a global movement that seeks to advance Every Woman Every Child – a strategy launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around – through action and advocacy to accelerate reductions in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

The movement emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, a high-level forum convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. Partners from government, civil society and the private sector emerged from the Call to Action forum with a revitalized commitment to child survival.

Attention broadcasters:  Recent video news stories and b-roll from Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia and Uganda will be available at http://weshare.unicef.org/mediaresources

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.