The World Health Organization’s annual statistics show progress is being made around the world in cutting child mortality – but it will miss its target of a two-thirds reduction by 2015.
The number of under-fives dying fell from 12 million in 1990 to less than seven million in 2011, the data shows.
But that will not be enough to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal.
The WHO says the health gap between countries is narrowing, but there are continuing inequalities in health care.
Many people in low- and middle-income countries have insufficient access to medicines in the public sector, meaning they rely on the private sector, where prices can be up to 16 times higher, says the WHO.
In these countries, an average of only 57% – and in some cases as little as 3% – of selected generic non-branded medicines are available in the public sector, according to data compiled by the global health body.
The World Health Statistics 2013 report compares progress made by countries with the best health status and the worst status over two decades, from 1990.
The statistics are compiled from many sources, including government birth and death registrations, hospital records, household surveys and research projects.
“Our statistics show that overall the gaps are closing between the most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries of the world,” said Dr Ties Boerma, director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at the WHO.
“However, the situation is far from satisfactory as progress is uneven and large gaps persist between and within countries.”
The gap in child mortality fell, from 171 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 107 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011, according to the latest statistics.
Global statistics on the number of women dying in childbirth have also improved, but the WHO says the global decline in maternal deaths (3%) will have to double to meet the goal of reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters.
Commenting on the report, the charity Save the Children said that as well as improving access to healthcare for the poorest families, the world must redouble efforts to tackle hunger, which contributes to a third of child deaths.
“We have made incredible progress in cutting the numbers of children who die every year by improving treatment of preventable diseases and making vaccines available to the poorest children,” said Brendan Cox, Save the Children’s director of policy.
“But unless we tackle hunger, we risk losing this momentum, and children will continue to die needlessly.”
Key trends in the report
- Preterm birth is the leading global killer of newborn babies and the second most important cause of death (after pneumonia) in all children aged under five years
- Every year about 15 million babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy – one million die
- Almost 10% of the world’s adult population has diabetes
Credit: The BBC News
Proposed new partnership will build on successes, political commitment
22 April 2013, Rome – Ministers and senior delegates from five African Nations met today with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva ahead of a High-Level meeting of African and international leaders in Addis Ababa next June set to create a renewed partnership for intensifying efforts to end hunger in Africa.
“There is an enormous window of opportunity,” for eradicating hunger in the continent, Graziano da Silva told a side-event organized during a week-long Session of FAO’s governing Council here. The key lies in capitalizing on the successes of the many African countries who have already found solutions for food insecurity and malnutrition.
“By building on these experiences we can eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa. Together we can stop the suffering of the estimated 23 percent of all Africans who remain undernourished, and 40 percent of children under five who are stunted or malnourished,” he said.
One reason for optimism is the unprecedented political commitment of governments and the African people to end hunger. An example is the decision of FAO’s regional Conference for Africa to set up an Africa Food Security Trust Fund. The Republic of the Congo, Angola and Equatorial Guinea have already announced they will contribute. Continue reading ““Enormous opportunity” for ending hunger in Africa” »
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NAIROBI, 31 March 2013 (IRIN) – The British government has announced a major new programme aimed at providing essential healthcare to six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The five-year, US$270.7 million project will focus on rebuilding health facilities, training health workers, and supplying drugs and equipment.
Civil war has destroyed much of the country’s health infrastructure, as well as the road networks and vital services such as electricity, meaning patients often have to travel long distances to health centres that may not be equipped to handle their complications.
IRIN has put together a list of five health issues in DRC that require urgent attention:
Maternal and Child Health – DRC’s maternal mortality ratio is 670 deaths per 100,000 live births, with an estimated 19,000 maternal deaths annually. The country has a severe shortage of health workers – less than one health professional is available per 1,000 people.
With 170 out of every 1,000 children dying before they reach the age of five and 10 percent of infants underweight, DRC has one of the worst child health indicators in the world. It is one of five countries in the world in which about half of under-five deaths occur. Some of the biggest killers of children are diarrhoea, malaria, malnutrition and pneumonia.
Sexual violence – Several studies report high levels of sexual violence perpetrated against women, children and men in DRC, both by armed groups and within the home; one study, conducted in the North and South Kivu and Ituri in 2010, found that 40 percent of women and 24 percent of men had experienced sexual violence. Continue reading “Democratic Republic of Congo Gets Boost for HealthCare” »
BLANTYRE, 9 January 2013 (IRIN) – International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde urged Malawians to stick with tough economic reforms during a recent three-day visit to the country, but measures recommended by the Fund and implemented by President Joyce Banda have been deeply unpopular with many citizens who can no longer afford basic goods and services.
Key among these measures was Banda’s decision, made soon after she took office in April 2012, to devalue the Malawian kwacha by 49 percent and untie the currency from the US dollar. The government also lifted subsidies and price controls on fuel.
The moves were designed to address chronic shortages of foreign-exchange reserves and key imports such as fuel, but they also triggered rapid inflation, which remains at 33 percent. Continue reading “MALAWI: “A Long and Hard Road Ahead”” »
KAMPALA, 7 January 2013 (PlusNews) – Uganda continues to fall short of achieving its goal of ensuring that 80 percent of people living with HIV receive antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) by 2015, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).
Some 62 percent of those needing HIV treatment were on ARVs in March 2012, up from 50 percent in 2010. Uganda managed to enroll an estimated 65,493 new HIV cases on life-prolonging ARVs in 2012, bringing to 356,056 the number of those receiving ARVs, according to UAC statistics.
But just 8 percent of these cases were children. A recent government survey has revealed that just 49 percent of infants in need of treatment are receiving it. (The government recommends that all HIV-positive infants under age two receive ARVs.) Some 20,000 to 24,000 children are infected with HIV each year, according to the Ministry of Health. Continue reading “Uganda Still Behind on HIV/AIDS ARV target” »
Recent gains in the fight against malaria could be reversed because funding has stalled, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Its latest World Malaria Report says 1.1 million lives were saved in the past decade but that the expansion in funding from 2004-09 halted in 2010-12.
Less than half of the $5.1bn (£3.1bn) needed was spent last year.
The WHO’s latest figures – for 2010 – show some 219 million people were infected, with 660,000 people dying. Continue reading “WHO Says Progress in Malaria Threatened by Funding” »
Women might dream of tall, dark and handsome, but researchers are claiming that it is men of average height who are having the most children. Scientists studying men in the US said those who were 178cm (5ft 10in) were the most reproductively successful.
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