Improvements In Child Survival A ‘Sweeping Accomplishment’

“[T]here [is] reason for optimism about the health of the world’s youngest,” columnist Tina Rosenberg writes in the New York Times “Opinionator” blog, noting, “A massive study published last week called the Global Burden of Disease report found that in the past 20 years, the death rate of children under five has dropped in every country in the world save three — Kuwait, Tonga and Zimbabwe.” She details some of the report findings and highlights a number of “cheap global programs” that have contributed to progress over the years, including vaccines, nutritional supplements, family planning, oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea, and bed nets, among others.

“The improvements in child survival have been dramatic, yet they do not seem to have altered many people’s fatalism about development or willingness to write off much of the world as doomed to eternal misery,” Rosenberg continues. She highlights “[a] new book, ‘Getting Better,’ by the economist Charles Kenny, [who] explains the disparity: when we measure how countries are doing, we measure income or economic growth,” She continues, “Kenny argues that income and growth measures don’t capture the tremendous gains in quality of life.” Rosenberg concludes, “Millennium Goal 4 … will probably not be met; … Yet there is no doubt we know how, and it is hard to think of a more sweeping accomplishment than the results so far” (12/19).

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