two boys squatting against wall
Fewer and fewer children are dying before the age of 5 in the developing world, according to a report released by UNICEF this week. But much more needs to be done to reach the Millennium Development Goal of cutting the number of child deaths by 2015. UN Radio's Nick Baker reports.
Amilestone in the effort to reduce the global infant mortality rate was reached this week.
For the first time on record the number of children dying before the age of 5 has dropped bellow the nine million mark, accord to a report by UNICEF.
Dr Renee Van de Wert, child survival expert at UNICEF, said that the feat was achieved by some very simple measures such as distributing mosquito nets and makingvaccinations available to the poorest of the poor.
However, Dr Van de Wert said there were still numerous speed bumps on the road to meeting the MDG of reducing the under-five global infant mortality rate of 1990 levels by two-thirds in 2015.
"Some regions of the world really are on track to reach MDG 4, for example the Latin American countries, they are clearly on the right path, sub-Saharan Africaand Asia still remain the problem areas, almost 90% of deaths still occur in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia, so we need to work there. The countries that struggle the most are countries affected by conflict. The health systems are no longer operational, the health workers aren't there."
Dr Van de Wert said that Malawi provided an excellent example of how a developing country could reap resultsafter a sustained push at cutting infant mortality.
"Malawi is a country where many of the things we said earlier have come together, first of all, very committed government, very good collaboration with partners agreeing on what the priorities are, having a good national plan that looks at what are the local causes of disease and what needs to be done. So they have done tremendously well in terms oftheir malaria intervention, looking at involving community health workers to get these simple things out there."
She said that one of the keys to achieving such a significant drop in the infant mortality rate was the simple act of promoting breastfeeding.
"Exclusively breastfeeding babies up to six months, that means nothing else, no water, no tea no solid foods, just providing children, thelittle babies, exclusively with breastfeeding from zero to six months has a huge impact. It protects them against many diseases, diarrhea and pneumonia in particular."
Dr Van de Wert said that when she worked in Chad for UNICEF, she saw just how each and every infant death would rock a community.
"Just having mums with their babies, mums describing how they have lost a baby, I find it stillvery, very shocking, and if we talk today about 8.8 million children that are still dying every year, those are dramas in every little family. You can only just imagine how devastating that must be."
Nick Baker for United Nations Radio.
A million deaths annually from suicide
[pic]PRES: Every year, a million people die from suicide, that's three thousand deaths aday, or one death every forty seconds. The World Health Organization says more men than women commit suicide, but women attempt to take their lives more frequently, with one exception: China.
Larkin: In China, for example, rural Chinese women have many stresses, not only the stress of farming and child rearing, of having only one male child but also taking care of their husband and father in lawin rural communities where there is not a lot of social support for them, is very challenging. In addition, their access to relatively lethal means such as organo-phosphate pesticides makes even a small suicide attempt on a particularly bad day, lethal in many cases.
PRES: Dr. Gregory Luke Larkin is a professor and Vice Chair with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale University. An...