The Child Health Now campaign warmly welcomes President Barack Obama's renewed commitment to tackling preventable child deaths. Last week, the US President used his fifth State of the Union address to re-affirm the importance of ending child deaths saying that “the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades” by taking steps that include “saving the world’s children from preventable deaths.”
The Child Health Now campaign, whose mission is to decrease the number of preventable deaths of children under five years old, applauds and celebrates this commitment from the US President. World Vision’s first global campaign, which launched in 2009, has sought to influence governments, influencers, members of the public and communities at local, national and international levels to make commitments to improve health for children under age five.
Why is this so important?
Every year, 7 million children lose their lives from wholly treatable and preventable deaths; 1.3 million alone will die from pneumonia, 700,000 from diarrhoea and 700,000 from malaria. If there is no progress between now and 2033 (President Obama’s deadline) 140 million children would have lost their lives due to these same preventable causes. Action now is more than important – it is vitally necessary.
The year ahead
Progress is possible – in 1990, 12.1 million children died every year before their fifth birthday from these same preventable causes. But in the 22 years that have passed there has been a 42% drop in child mortality. Meaning that today, 5.1 million children per year are alive that wouldn’t have been 22 years ago. This progress has only come through the combined efforts of global communities, governments, charities and citizens.
This year there are a number of opportunities where President Obama can join with allies to tackle extreme poverty and impact the number of deaths of children under age five.
The first is the G8 summit, held in the United Kingdom this June, which will include nutrition, recognising the critical role this has in saving children's lives. President Obama can build on the work on nutrition and hunger started at the US G8 through continued leadership, including financial support, as evidenced by the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The New Alliance is a commitment between G8 countries, certain African countries and certain private-sector companies to lift 50 million people out of poverty over ten years.
The second is the UN General Assembly which will take place in New York in September. In 2010, the Every Woman, Every Child initiative was launched. It seeks to save 16 million lives by 2015. Leaders at the UN General Assembly will check on progress made so far, including commitments made totalling over $40 billion. This year will also feature a review of the Millennium Development Goals (the eight goals set in 2000 to end extreme poverty by 2015) and a focus on what happens after these goals expire. A continued focus on improving child health and nutrition is critical to continue building on the progress made to date.
Both these events present important opportunities for President Obama to tackle extreme poverty and action in either could long term save the lives of millions of children.