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HEALTH: Child survival up, but not enough

lead photo
NAIROBI, 11 May 2012 (IRIN) - Global mortality among children younger
than five years declined by 26 percent between 2000 and 2010 - meaning
that the lives of some two million children were saved - but this is
still not enough for many countries to meet the Millennium Development
Goal of reducing deaths in this age group by two-thirds by 2015,
according to recent US research
-1/abstract> .

"Too much emphasis has been placed in recent years on global numbers
and mortality, and less on understanding the determinants and direction
of trends," wrote Zulfiqar Bhutta, head of the maternal and child
health division at the Aga Khan University Medical Centre in Karachi,
Pakistan in a commentary accompanying the study.

He noted that annual deaths from diarrhoea - a leading killer among
young children - fell to less than 800,000 during the past two decades,
but the drop occurred mostly in large countries like China, Brazil and
India, and overall "the incidence of diarrhoeal disorders has hardly

In a study by Johns Hopkins University, researchers used birth and
death registries, household surveys, verbal autopsy

(interviews with people familiar with the deceased to learn the cause
of death) and multi-cause models
thods.pdf> to estimate the causes of death in children younger than
five years during 2010 to monitor the progress of 193 countries towards
Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG) - slashing child deaths annually by
4.4 percent, or 66 percent over 15 years.

The study showed an average drop in mortality of only 2.6 percent
annually, with preventable infectious diseases causing almost
two-thirds of the deaths. Pre-term birth
ble-stillbirths> (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) followed by pneumonia
gest-child-killer> were responsible for the highest number of deaths
globally, with Africa and Southeast Asia hardest hit.

In Africa, 73 percent of all child deaths (2.6 million children) were
attributed mostly to malaria and HIV/AIDS, while in Southeast Asia
nearly one million babies died within their first 28 days of life
because of too-early birth, problems during delivery, or infection.


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