What has happened to date:

Millennium Development Goal number four is to cut the mortality rate of those younger than 5 years old by two-thirds by the year 2015. While the world has seen a steady trend in declining child mortality rates, with the number of deaths under the age of 5 falling from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012, the rate is not fast enough to meet the 2015 goal.

According to a UNICEF news release, about 45 percent of deaths in children younger than 5 are linked to malnutrition. About half of these youth deaths occur in five countries: China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan with India and Nigeria together accounting for one-third of the overall deaths.

The UNICEF deputy executive director, Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, states that the progress curbing infant mortality rates across the globe is due to the increased availability and affordability of effective treatment, innovative ways to deliver critical interventions and sustained political commitment to the cause.

What is predicted to happen in the future:

According to a report created by the United Nations Chidlren’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population division, if efforts to minimize child mortality stay at its current rates, the millennium development goal will not be reached until 2028.

According to UNICEF, if the goal is reached by 2028 rather than 2015, as many as 35 million children could die from preventable diseases in that time gap.

While the declining rate is not fast enough to reach the Millennium Development goal, it is improving by the year. The global average annual rate in under-5-mortality was 1.2 percent between 1990 and 1995, and jumped to 3.9 percent between 2005 and 2012. While reaching the goal by 2015 isn’t looking possible, the exponential decrease in the child mortality rate lessens the blow.

Post-2015 Investments

While the deadline for the MDG is fast approaching, organizations and governments have decided to look past 2015 in order to create new goals and standards to halt child mortality.

In 2012, the governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States joined forces with UNICEF to launch a global effort to stop preventable deaths among children. Since its creation, more than 176 governments, civil society organizations, private sector organizations and individuals have pledged to redouble their efforts. To ensure accountability and track progress, UNICEF is publishing annual reports on child survival rates.

A Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) run by WHO which seeks to introduce new and improved vaccines and spur research and development in order to accomplish universal access to immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 has five official goals:

  1. Achieve a world free of polio
  2. Meet vaccination coverage targets in every region, country and community
  3. Exceed the Millennium Development Goal number four target
  4. Meet global and regional elimination targets
  5. Develop and introduce new and improved vaccination and technologies

WHO plans on reaching these goals with strategic objectives, which entail countries taking wider access to immunization more seriously by integrating it into their immediate goals.

On June 4-5, 2014 a G7 summit was held by the European Union in Brussels, and was attended by leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada. While the topics discussed ranged from transparency among executives and global finance to political transitions for Arab states, one of the main focuses remained global development. The leaders worked on setting clear and measurable objectives to follow the 2015 Post Millennium Goals. The attendees committed to providing a status report in 2015 concerning the current goals and how the world measured up to them.

As the current development target dates are approaching, global decision makers are evaluating their shortfalls in order to alter their blue print for a brighter future.

— Courtney Prentice
Sources: A Promise Renewed, Devex, Medscape, UNICEF, WHO
Photo: Rose Theatre Kingston