Only one in five countries to meet targets on child mortality
Just 20 per cent of 74 developing nations are projected to meet targets to reduce their child mortality rate by 2035, a new report published in The Lancet reveals.
The targets were set by international health agencies in light of the expiration of international Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015.
The aim is to reduce the number of child deaths under 5 to less than 20 deaths per 1000 births by 2035.
Although child mortality rates have fallen in most countries since MDG targets were agreed in 2000, the report stated that efforts to improve the health of children worldwide will need to be intensified in order to meet the agreed targets.
Dr Neff Walker, author of the study commented, “While falling rates of maternal and child deaths are to be welcomed, our analysis shows that if historical trends continue, there will still be 5.4 million deaths in children under five in 2035.
"This number could be more than halved if all countries were able to match the performance of countries which have made the best improvements in recent years".
The author calls on governments, both of the countries most affected by maternal and child deaths, and of nations providing development assistance, to redouble their efforts to deliver known and proven interventions at high and sustained levels, and search for new interventions that will save the lives of more children.
The report was based upon data from 69 low and middle-income countries, 58 of which were from the 75 'Countdown' countries, which account for more than 95 per cent of all child deaths worldwide.
In the 69 countries analysed, it was found that the odds of having access to antimalarial treatment, a skilled attendant at birth and improved sanitation facilities all decreased by an average of 6 per cent every year.
“Both malaria and HIV interventions were introduced in the late 1990s, and benefited from high financial investment and political commitment. They are examples of what is possible, and of what needs to be done for other highly effective maternal and child health interventions,” Dr Walker explained.
“The challenge to the global public health community is clear: ways to reach more women and children with the full range of effective interventions need to be identified. There will not be one overall formula for success, but we know what the necessary actions are.
"Our results suggest that further dramatic gains in reducing child mortality are achievable within this generation, but only with sustained political will and financial support.”