Child deaths drop sharply, says WHO report
Geneva, May 21, 2009
Deaths of children aged under five years have dropped by 27 per cent globally since 1990, according to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) first progress report on the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
An estimated 9 million children aged under five years died in 2007, significantly fewer than the 12.5 million estimated to have died in 1990, the baseline year against which progress towards the goals is measured.
However, in many African countries and in low-income countries generally, progress has been insufficient to reach the MDG target, that aims for a two thirds reduction in child mortality by the year 2015.
'The decline in the death toll of children under five illustrates what can be achieved by strengthening health systems and scaling up interventions, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria and oral rehydration therapy for diarrhoea, increased access to vaccines and improved water and sanitation in developing countries,” said Dr Ties Boerma, director of WHO’s Department of Health Statistics and Informatics.
The MDGs were initiated by the United Nations and its partners to achieve significant improvements in eight health and development areas by 2015.
'At the mid-way point, the analysis shows encouraging signs of progress,' said Dr Boerma.
'But there needs to be more effort to strengthen health systems in countries affected by high levels of HIV/AIDS, economic hardship or conflict. Moreover, there is a need to pay greater attention to the poorest groups within countries where progress is often the slowest and child mortality rates remain high.'
'Areas where there has been little or no movement are notably maternal and newborn health. An estimated 37 per cent of deaths among children aged under five occurs in the first month of life, and most of them in the first week of life,' said Dr Boerma.
'While the data is patchy and incomplete, it appears that the regions with the least progress are those where levels of maternal mortality are highest.'
'The challenges ahead are those presented by weak health systems, those associated with noncommunicable chronic conditions, and emerging health threats such as pandemics and climate change,' said Dr Boerma.
World Health Statistics 2009 is an annual report based on more than 100 health indicators collected from WHO's 193 Member States.-TradeArabia News Service