Between 1990 and 2015, there was a significant global decrease in child mortality. The number was reduced from nearly 14.2 million deaths in 1990 to just over 7.2 million in 2015. It was only recently, in 2015, that the number of deaths for children under age five dropped below six million.

Around one-third of the world’s nations have reduced their child mortality rates by two-thirds. In another 74 countries, the number has been reduced by one-half.

In a study conducted by the Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration, health in children under the age of 19 in 195 countries was studied and examined. The report defines the most common causes of death for children and compares countries based on the socio-demographic index. The socio-demographic index is a measurement of development and is based on average income, educational attainment and total fertility rate.

So, what has the international community been doing to contribute to the global decrease in child mortality? The world has been focused on implementing and popularizing several health initiatives and strategies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined several of these strategies. These initiatives include ensuring immediate and exclusive breastfeeding as well as medical professional advice during birth and postnatal care. In addition, access to nutritional supplements and educational resources about warning signs in health have become more prevalent. Appropriate provisions for sanitary water and immunizations employed by WHO have also contributed to decreasing child mortality rates.

Many international organizations are partnering up to support the fight against child deaths. A Global Vaccine Action Plan is working toward universal access to immunization by the year 2020. Over 170 countries have signed onto A Promise Renewed, a call for action led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the governments of Ethiopia, the U.S. and India. The campaign is working to ensure that children are not dying from easily preventable causes.

Although the number of child deaths has been reduced significantly, child mortality is still an issue, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the world has not yet reached the levels outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. Countries with the lower socio-demographic indexes still suffer disproportionately from child mortality. Experts suggest that this may be due to a historical lack of health development resources and accessibility.

The study from the Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration concluded with a statement that, “timely, robust and comprehensive assessment of disease burden among children and adolescents provides information that is essential to health policy decision making in countries at all points along the spectrum of economic development.” The Collaboration hopes that the data from the study will help the international community to continue fighting child mortality. The global decrease in child mortality has made a positive impact on poverty and health care development, but there is still a ways to go before the Millenium Development Goals are met.

Taylor Elgarten

 

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