In 2008, 8.8 million children born alive across the world died before their fifth birthday. Most of these children lived in Sub-Sahara Africa and died from a disease or a combination of diseases that could easily have been prevented or treated – antibiotics for pneumonia, for example, or a simple mix of water, salt and sugar for diarrhea.
According to new estimates substantial progress has been made, however, the rate of decline in under-five mortality is still grossly insufficient to obtain the MDG goal by 2015, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, which stipulates to reduce child mortality by two-thirds, from 93 children of every 1,000 dying before age five in 1990 to 31 of every 1,000 in 2015.
However, with all the efforts about 29,000 children under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.
More than 70 per cent of child deaths are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. Malnutrition and the lack of safe water and sanitation also contribute to the children’s deaths.
At the Foundation we know that disease isn’t inevitable, nor do children with these diseases need to die. Research and experience show that six million of the almost 11 million children who die each year could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets and improved family care and breastfeeding practices.
The Foundation works in partnership with governments, World Health Organization, and others, to scale up proven, high-impact, cost-effective health and nutrition interventions to reduce the number of neonatal and young child deaths from preventable and easily treatable causes.
But progress in meeting this Millennium Goal and saving children’s lives is the most off track of any of the Millennium Goals and this is where the Foundation is placing majority of our efforts and we look to the medical and healthcare industry and professionals to become part of the solutions. We seek your input and support – together we can meet the challenges.