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19 September 2012

Falling child mortality

Falling child mortality

Compassion UK have received the news that child mortality rates continue to fall with enthusiasm.

According to a recent report by Unicef, the number of children dying under the age of five has dropped from 12 million in 1990 to an estimated 6.9 million in 2011.

Compassion attributes these changes to things such as improved maternal and post-natal access to healthcare, immunisations and lifestyle and environmental changes.

Shelley Wallace, operations director at Compassion UK, said “The report is a real testament to what can be achieved when we work together as a global network of organisations for the children of our world.

“In 2003 Compassion established our Child Survival Programme to offer a holistic approach to expectant mothers, caregivers and young, vulnerable children — helping save lives and teaching healthy development. Today we have more than 400,000 babies, toddlers and mothers registered into our programme. These children are not just surviving infanthood; they are healthier and better prepared for the future.”

The Bezaleel Child Survival Programme in Peru, for example, has many infants registered who are malnourished, anaemic or suffering with parasites.

Consequently, the project provides children with a highly nutritious diet, including vitamin supplements, and tries to educate mothers about hygiene, sanitation and how to prepare nutritious meals.

However, this is not always easy. Elisa Villalobos, the director of the programme, said: “It is not easy to change the way of thinking in the mothers. They have their own traditions and ways to feed their family. It takes time to educate them.”

Nonetheless the work of Compassion and their church partners has seen a change in the attitudes of caregivers, which in turn has improved the health of their children.

Despite the figure having dropped to 51 children out of every thousand dying before their fifth birthday, the Unicef report warns that to reach Millennium Development Goal four, this number needs to reduce to 29 children per thousand by 2015.

However, in June 2012 more than 700 partners were brought together for the Child Survival Call to Action, and since then 110 governments have pledged to redouble their efforts to reduce child mortality.

This renewed effort, and the continued work of the Church, governments and organisations like Compassion will hopefully enable more countries to reach their goals by 2015.