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About Child

The Issue
In t h e y e a r 2 0 0 0, leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations made a commitment to the
world’s children. They promised that by the year 2015, two-thirds fewer children would die
from preventable causes than in 1990 (Millennium Development Goal 4). Currently, we are not
on track to keep that promise.

Every day, more than 22,000 children die before reaching their 5th birthday. Most of these
children live in developing countries and die from causes that are preventable or treatable.

The main identified causes of death are: pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, pre-term births,
asphyxia, and malaria. In 35 to 50 percent of these deaths, malnutrition is an underlying factor.

The Facts

E v e ry day, o n av er a ge, more than 22,000 children under the age of 5 die
around the world, most from preventable causes. This calculates to more than 8
million children each year.


H a l f o f t h e wo r ld’s under-5 deaths occur in Africa, which remains the most
difficult place in the world for a child to survive until age 5. Asia accounts for 41
percent of global under-5 deaths.

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The gr e at est r isk is during the first day after birth, when it is estimated
that between 25 and 45 percent of neonatal deaths occur. Around three quarters of
newborn deaths, or 2.8 million, occur within the first week of life.


O n av e r a g e, nearly 1,500 women die each day from complications related to
pregnancy and childbirth.


So m e 8 6 p er c ent of newborn deaths globally are the direct result of three
main causes: severe infections, including sepsis/pneumonia, tetanus and diarrhea;
asphyxia; and preterm births. Severe infections are estimated to account for
36 percent of all newborn deaths.


L o w b i rt h weight, which is related to maternal malnutrition, is a causal
factor in 60 to 80 percent of neonatal deaths.


In 2 0 0 7 , 148 million children under the age of 5 in the developing world were
underweight for their age. Two thirds of these children live in Asia, and just over one
quarter live in Africa. Together, Africa and Asia account for 93 percent of all
underweight children under the age of 5 in the developing world.

M a ny fa c t o r s ma k e it diffic ult to reduce child mortality. Lesser-developed

countries struggle with inadequate health services, lack of clean water and sanitation, illiteracy
(especially among women and girls), gender discrimination and isolation of communities due to
poor infrastructure, natural disasters and conflict.

Neonatal and Maternal Health

A s i gni f i c a nt p ro po rt io n of under-5 child deaths occur in the newborn period, the
first 28 days of life. Of an estimated 8.8 million deaths of children under 5 in 2008, more than
40 percent occurred in the newborn period. That is more than 2 million children dying the day
they are born, and another 2 million in the first month.

W h i l e s o m e c o unt r ies have seen improvement in reduction of infant deaths, the slow
progress in other regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, is of great concern. This is due to many
factors, one being the challenge of improving the health of mothers.

(Sources: UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2009; WHO Newborns, Infants, and Children; The Lancet: Press
Release. “Mixed Progress in Reducing World Under-5 Mortality, with Most Regions Not on Track to Meet Millennium
Development Goal 4.” September 10, 2009.)

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Addressing the Problem
P r e v e nt i n g t he deat hs of millions of children requires an integrated approach and
low-cost interventions such as: nutrition training; distribution of Vitamin A, iodized salt, and
iron; education in breastfeeding, hygiene, and sanitation practices; birth spacing and skilled
birth attendants; access to antibiotics and immunizations; oral rehydration therapy (ORT);
and ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs). Changes are also needed to improve healthcare
facilities and systems, remove social barriers for women, and address indirect factors, such as
illiteracy, that cause poor health.

W o r l d Vi s i o n takes a community-based multi-sector approach to improving child health.

Nutrition and health are linked with agriculture, water and sanitation, household food security, and
education to ensure greater reach and impact.

What You Can Do


P r ay f o r pa r ent s around the world who struggle to keep their children healthy,
especially in the critical first few years of life. Also, pray for more resources and
effective coordination to help improve global child survival rates.


Do nat e : A $25 gift helps provide life-saving immunizations and healthcare to needy
children and families. Go to


As k y o ur memb er s o f Co ngr ess to support the Global Child Survival Act
of 2007 (H.R. 2266, S. 1418), which will help improve accountability and coordination of
money being spent for child and maternal health.


Write children’s stories about child health, and host readings at local schools
and libraries.


H o s t a s c ho o l or community dinner and educate about the causes and effects of
malnutrition on children.


Fundr a i s e for a child health-focused organization or project. Educate donors on how
funds are used.


R e s e a r c h the U.S. commitments to global child health. Invite a local politician to
speak about U.S. priorities in a Q and A session.

During the preparation of this resource, all citations, facts, figures, Internet URLs, and other cited information were
verified for accuracy. World Vision Resources has made every attempt to reference current and valid sources, but we
cannot guarantee the content of any source and we are not responsible for any changes that may have occurred since
our verification. If you find an error in, or have a question or concern about, any of the information or sources listed
within, please contact World Vision Resources.

Copyright © 2011 World Vision, Inc., P.O. Box 9716, Mail Stop 321, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716, All rights reserved.
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About World Vision
W o r l d Vi s i o n is a Christian humanitarian organization
dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities
worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of
poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World
Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of
God’s unconditional love for all people. We see a world where each
child experiences “fullness of life” as described in John 10:10. And we
know this can be achieved only by addressing the problems of poverty
and injustice in a holistic way. That’s how World Vision is unique:
We bring 60 years of experience in three key areas needed to help
children and families thrive: emergency relief, long-term development,
and advocacy. And we bring all of our skills across many areas of
expertise to each community we work in, enabling us to care for
children’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Partnering with World Vision provides tangible ways to honor

God and put faith into action. By working, we can make a lasting
difference in the lives of children and families who are struggling to
overcome poverty. To find out more about how you can help, visit

About World Vision Resources

E ndi ng gl o b a l po v ert y and injustice begins with education:
understanding the magnitude and causes of poverty, its impact on
human dignity, and our connection to those in need around the world.

World Vision Resources is the publishing ministry of World Vision.

World Vision Resources educates Christians about global poverty,
inspires them to respond, and equips them with innovative resources
to make a difference in the world.

For more information about our

resources, contact:
World Vision Resources
Mail Stop 321
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
Fax: 253-815-3340

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