Reduce child mortality
Advancements in medicine and technology have made it
possible for premature and seriously ill babies to live
right through the risk period and eventually lead normal
lives. But this is not the case in poor and underdeveloped
nations. Babies die every day from malnutrition and disease
found both in the nursing mother and the child itself. Sadly
many, if not most of these diseases are preventable. Childinfo,
Monitoring the Situation of Women and Children, documents
unbelievable statistics regarding infant and child deaths.
“In 2007, 9.2 million children born alive across the world died before their fifth birthday. Most of these children lived in developing countries and died from a disease or a combination of diseases that could easily have been prevented or treated with decent Children's Health Care.” And 2007 was almost the halfway point for the MDG deadline of 2015. So the question becomes - Is the world making significant progress toward the stated target of reducing child mortality?
Target 1: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
Infant and child deaths are directly correlated with poverty. Even in developing nations where technology is available, those living in slums have higher death rates than children living in rich neighborhoods. Exacerbating the situation in poor countries is the fact that even though a women may earn a higher income, her situation would not necessarily change because access to the same technology is not available. In addition to the absence of medical equipment, many mothers are not aware of remedies that might help their babies. Also, faced with unsanitary conditions such as contaminated drinking water, extra money on the mother's part will not help.
Specific programs that teach mothers how to care for their sick children and how to prevent the diseases are important. Take for example diarrhea, it is not even considered a disease in developed nations, yet elsewhere, it is a death sentence for children. If by education, mothers understand the condition and can make a difference in their own lives, then these types of programs must be top priority. Additionally, children require access to vaccines and regular medical examinations. And programs to help build safe drinking wells in communities will help.
And when we say disease, we do not mean all kinds of bizarre and tropical diseases unknown to others, we mean common everyday names that everyone understands. In fact, only five diseases are the culprits for half of these horrendous statistics. Pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and AIDS could be treated with antibiotics, oral rehydration with a simple mix of water, salt and sugar, vaccination, and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Education and prevention are the keys to reducing child mortality.
Happily, there are, however, uplifting statistics that indicate great promise.
- Childinfo says that “rapid declines in under-five mortality (more than 50 percent) have been seen in Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS), and East Asia and the Pacific”.
- Project Peanut Butter is one of the most innovative and truly successful ways to combat extreme malnutrition. Where milk formulas see small success rates, the “Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a peanut/dairy/vitamin/mineral food offers a 95% recovery rate for severely malnourished children and is administered in the home”. Predominantly used in Malawi and Sierra Leone, the miracle product was created by Professor Mark Manary, M.D, a leading authority on severe childhood malnutrition. Further, in December 2008, UNICEF introduced a similar product to children in Somali. Called Plumpy’Doz, it is produced by French company Nutriset.