Public Release: 

Child Survival Symposium: Urgent action needed to reduce child mortality worldwide by 2015

The new research findings in the Lancet special issue, to be presented at the meeting, under embargo until 00:01H ((London time) Monday September 18, 2006


The Lancet, UNICEF, and the Norwegian Government will host a key meeting in New York on September 18th to assess the progress being made to reduce child deaths by two-thirds by 2015--the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 4). Heads of State and health experts will convene to map out the global action still urgently required to make MDG 4 a reality.

The meeting will coincide with the publication of a special issue of The Lancet devoted to child survival. The issue will include the latest findings from the Child Survival Countdown, a worldwide effort to monitor the use of interventions that can improve child survival in 60 countries where 94% of child deaths under five occur.

The new research findings in The Lancet special issue, to be presented at the meeting, under embargo until 00:01H ((London time) Monday September 18, 2006, include:

  • Only seven of the 60 countries with the highest child mortality show trends in under-five mortality that suggest they will meet the child-survival MDG

  • 39 countries are making some progress, and 14 countries are cause for serious concern

  • Only 10 countries are on track with regard to exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life

  • Only 10 countries have implemented appropriate vaccination campaigns against diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus

  • Only 6 countries are meeting the required targets for effective control of pneumonia, diarrhoeal disease, and malaria treatment

Other key findings include:

  • The current level of official developmental assistance to maternal, newborn, and child health is inadequate

  • Global aid flows will need to increase sharply during the next 5 years to reach MDG4

  • The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) should redistribute its resources to countries with the lowest vaccine coverage

Speakers at the September 18th meeting include:
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet
Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway
Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF
Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director General, WHO

For more information regarding The Lancet special issue or the meeting:
Udani Samarasekera, The Lancet T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949

For media accreditation and more information:
Angela Hawke, UNICEF New York: (+1 212) 326 7269
Jessica Malter, UNICEF New York: (+1 212) 326 7412
Erica Kochi, UNICEF New York: (+1 212) 326 7785

For interviews with Prime Minister Stoltenberg:
Trude Måseide T) +47 95 72 65 10
Anne Thurmann-Nielsen T) +1-6462479834/+1-212-310 1557


Notes to editors

Child deaths
10.5 million children die every year before 5 years of age, mostly from preventable causes.

The Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, governments worldwide committed to improving the health and nutrition of children by adopting the Millennium Declaration, with its ten Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

MDG 4 calls for a two-thirds' reduction in deaths of children younger than five years between 1990 and 2015.

How can MDG 4 targets be reached?
Achieving this will require widespread use of effective interventions known to improve child survival. These interventions include exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, the use of insecticide-treated nets for preventing malaria, delivery attendants when babies are born (to ensure newborn health), prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and treatments for malaria and pneumonia.

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