Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me
Last week, UNICEF issued its followup report from 2012’s “Child Survival Call to Action,” entitled: “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed – Progress Report 2015.” Maggie Fox says the bad news that, worldwide, almost six million children under the age of five years old die every year from preventable causes, is tempered by the good (great, really awesome) news that this number represents a drop in this specific pediatric mortality rate by more than half (50%) since 1990:
“Under-five deaths have dropped from 12.7 million per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. This is the first year the figure has gone below the 6 million mark,” UNICEF said in a statement.
“Since 1990 the number of preventable child deaths has been cut in half. That’s great and a reason to celebrate,” said Dr. Linda Arnold of the Academy of Pediatrics.
But it’s not all good news, she added.
Of course it’s not. 5.9 million is a big number — a lot of kids, dying preventable deaths:
- Almost half of these deaths (45%) occur in the newborn period (the first month of life).
- 17% (1 million per year) die on their first day of life.
- Prematurity, infectious diseases (pneumonia, diarrhea), and complications of labor and delivery are major causes of newborn mortality.
- More than 16,000 children under the age of five die every day of preventable causes.
- About half of children under five who die are malnourished.
Proposed low-cost strategies that will have the most impact include:
- Improving prenatal care for moms and postnatal care for premature infants.
- Encouraging mothers to breastfeeding exclusively.
- Immunizing babies and mothers. (Immunizing fathers isn’t a bad idea, either!)
- Preventing malaria by providing mosquito nets treated with insecticides.
- Treating pneumonias by having better access to antibiotics.
- Fighting malnutrition by providing supplemental food.
Of course there are low-cost/no-cost things all of us can do to help drive the number of deaths in the global newborn and pediatric population, starting in your own home and community, by keeping yourself and your family healthy, safe, and informed.
What other ideas might you and your children have to make the world a better place?