International Community Should Recommit To Improving Child Survival

In a GlobalPost opinion piece, Michael Merson, the founding director of the Duke Global Health Institute and a professor of global health at Duke University, writes that “now is the time to remember the highly successful Child Survival Revolution of the 1980s.” He states, “Preventing childhood diarrhea and pneumonia deaths and vaccinating children in the first six months of life was the essence of the Child Survival Revolution of the 1980s. But sadly, the revolution came to an end as much of the global health community shifted most of its attention and resources to HIV/AIDS.” He highlights Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, “a pledge to reduce the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015,” and notes “the newly released UNICEF report, ‘Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed,’ tells us that while we have made progress, more than 200 million children have paid with their lives because we failed to regain the momentum we had three decades ago.

“In 2012, most of the 6.6 million under-five deaths were caused by preventable diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. And at our current rate of progress, by 2028 an additional 35 million children will die who would have survived had we met this MDG,” Merson continues. “The level of commitment that the world made to eradicating smallpox and improving access to antiretroviral drugs, especially in low-income countries, now needs to be applied to child survival,” he states, adding, “We need to accelerate our efforts to come as close as possible to achieving MDG 4 and ensure that what is not achieved is included in the post-2015 agenda. The technologies and approaches exist, and they are affordable.” He writes, “The winning formula is global leadership and coordination, political commitment, adequate resources and strengthening of health systems in countries” (9/30).

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