Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Child Mortality at historical low!

From the BBC:

Child mortality 'at record low'

Children being immunised
Millions of lives have been saved by immunisation, Unicef says
Fewer children under five worldwide are dying than ever before, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, due to increased immunisation.

Greater steps have also been taken to prevent the spread of malaria, a Unicef report says.

But nearly 10 million children under five died in 2006, the report adds.

The Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 could be met by Latin America and the Caribbean, Unicef says.

This slowing in the rate of child deaths, from 13 million in 1990, to 9.7 million in 2006, is due to a combination of factors, including better immunisation, more mothers breastfeeding and mosquito nets being used to prevent the spread of malaria.

The decline in the numbers of children dying was particularly marked in Morocco, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic, where the number dying dropped by a third.

China has seen a drop from 45 deaths for every 1,000 lives in 1990 to 24 in 2006, while in India the drop was from 115 to 76.

In sub-Saharan Africa deaths from measles have been reduced by 75% due to increased vaccination coverage.

Doubts cast

"This is an historic moment," said Unicef executive director Ann Veneman.

"More children are surviving today than ever before. Now we must build on this public health success to push for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals."

But some experts questioned Unicef's interpretation of the data.

"Considering all the tools we have for child survival, we are not doing better at reducing child mortality now than we were three decades ago," Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington told Associated press agency.

Nearly five million under fives from sub-Saharan Africa died in 2006 as well as three million from South Asia.

The spread of HIV and Aids continues to claim children's lives in Africa countering the effects of better medicine for other childhood illnesses.

The authors of this report say most child deaths are preventable. What is needed is better local health care, they say.

Sweet and sour news, I think. We are doing well, but we could be doing better if we used the tools we already have. But, as usual, that costs money and no one is willing to pay. The only hope we have is to use the technology currently at our reach to improve ourselves and our societies and lower even more these rates, with or without help from developed countries. In any case, these news are encouraging.

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