The World Policy Analysis Center, an organisation within the University of California – Los Angeles whose goal is to get good data to leaders and advocates, has created an interactive online map showing how countries are doing with goals like improving children’s health. The map is provided alongside a comprehensive report, Changing Children’s Chances, available through online bookstores.
The map contains views that show which “countries have strong preventative health measures in early childhood”, what proportion of a country’s “population has access to improved sanitation services”, along with many other views.
Even low-income governments can do more
One finding of the Changing Children’s Chances report is that even the governments of low-income countries could do more to improve health. Twenty-two of the countries that do not meet World Health Organisation goals for number of health professionals engaged in providing basic health services have governments that spend less than two per cent of their country’s gross domestic product on health. Of these, 13 are low-income countries and nine are middle-income countries.
While lack of resources is certainly a major issue in developing countries, lack of political will can also be an issue. Sierra Leone’s government recently increased its health budget as a share of the national budget after intense lobbying by World Vision and other organisations. World Vision found that it helped to show politicians data on how other countries have successfully reduced child mortality by increasing funding to public health services. World Vision, as part of a coalition, is now monitoring in Sierra Leone to see how efficiently this increased funding reaches the places that need it most. The plan is to provide this data to government leaders.
The Changing Children’s Chances report found that, overall, governments have failed to keep to the targets that they committed to in international agreements. It is necessary for the public, both in developed and in developing countries, to keep the pressure on governments to ensure that child mortality rates continue to fall. World Vision’s Child Health Now campaign recently brought together more than two million people in over 80 countries to speak out for child health. The campaign seeks to hold leaders to account to make sure that they fulfil their promises to further reduce child mortality. As the world discusses what comes after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015, child health must be at the top of the list.