UNICEF Australia is calling on the newly elected Australian Government to emphasise a renewed urgency to end preventable child deaths following the latest research showing more than 90 million children’s lives have been saved in the past 22 years with the assistance of international aid.
Research, out today, shows the number of preventable child deaths among children under the age of five has almost halved since 1990, when 12.6 million children died that year.
However, despite progress, about 6.6 million children under the age of five died in 2012, 44 per cent dying in their first 28 days of life.
UNICEF Executive Director Dr Anthony Lake said though the trend was positive and millions of lives had been saved over the past two decades more could be done.
“We can do still better,” Dr Lake said. “Most of these deaths can be prevented, using simple steps that many countries have already put in place – what we need is a greater sense of urgency.”
Dr Lake’s call has comes on the release of the 2013 UNICEF report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed and champions a global effort to stop children from dying from easily preventable causes, many of them childhood illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles.
Australia is one of 176 countries that last year signed a pledge to accelerate progress on child survival and has followed the lead of UNICEF and the governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States to fund simple, cost-efficient and effective remedies to aid child survival.
Dr Lake applauded worldwide success but said now was the time to renew efforts to speed up progress.
“We can speed up the progress - we know how but we need to act with a renewed sense of urgency,” he said.
UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Norman Gillespie said threats to future progress included a recent announcement that Australia’s foreign aid commitment would not grow under the newly-elected Coalition Government.
“Having come this far in tackling preventable deaths of children under five we cannot slacken on the momentum,” he said.
Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
Progress Report 2013 initiated by UNICEF, is a global movement supported by 176 governments bringing together public, private and civil society actors committed to advocacy and action for maternal, newborn and child survival.
Levels and Trends in Child Mortality
is a global comparative study on international child mortality compiled by The Interagency Group for Child Mortality, whose members are UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank Group and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
For more information, please contact:
Tim O’Connor, UNICEF Australia
02 8917 3247 / 0435 206 273
Kate Moore, UNICEF Australia
02 8917 3244 / 0407 150 771
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