While one of the world’s poorest countries, Niger, leads the pack, other nations like Liberia, Rwanda, Indonesia, Madagascar, India, China, Egypt, Tanzania and Mozambique have done a good job in the last two decades, a new report by Save the Children has found.
A recent study published in the international journal Lancet said that India has made steady progress in reducing deaths in children younger than 5 years, with total deaths declining from 2·5 million in 2001 to 1·5 million in 2012. However, just 81 districts accounted for more than one-third of child mortality in 2012 and half of these deaths were of girls.
Save the Children’s report evaluating countries’ progress in tackling preventable child death found countries that made the least progress were Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea.
The NGO’s report analyzed how 75 countries, which account for nearly all maternal and child deaths, are progressing towards the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal on child mortality.
“We are making historic gains in the fight against child deaths but this headline success also often masks that poor children are being left behind and, in extreme cases, are doing worse,” said Save the Children’s global campaign director, Patrick Watt.
Four million children could have been saved in this timeframe if the fight against child mortality were spread out in an economically balanced way, the NGO said. Save the Children has urged governments to implement “national healthcare plans that reach every child, including newborns, with the objective of reaching full coverage by 2030” and “reduce malnutrition so that every child has the nutrition they need to survive and thrive.” “Despite having scarce resources and recurring droughts, Niger has cut the number of under-fives dying unnecessarily by nearly two thirds since 1990 and is on track to achieve the UN’s global goal on child mortality,” the report said.
“The country’s progress is striking because – unlike others — it has managed to do better across all income groups, and in the countryside as well as urban areas.” But income inequality in sub-Saharan Africa — where most child deaths occur — actually worsened from 1998-2008, the study found.