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Children on the Frontline

Preventable Child Deaths Not Always Linked to Poorest Countries: UNICEF

A child carries a box of relief supplies to her tent at the Mardan refugee camp in Pakistan. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 29 2016 (IPS) - Millions of children still die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, according to the 2016 State of The World’s Children Report released here Tuesday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The report, which is released annually, shows that a country’s income does not always determine progress in child mortality. Many poorer countries are outpacing their richer neighbours in reducing their mortality rates, and some rapidly growing economies – including India and Nigeria – have been in the slower lane for reducing child mortality.

The picture is unequal within rich countries too. The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than most high-income countries, and the odds of survival are closely linked to racial inequality: In 2013, infants born to African American parents were more than twice as likely to die as those born to white Americans.

By 2030, five countries will account for more than half of the global burden of under-five deaths: India (17 percent), Nigeria (15 percent), Pakistan (8 percent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (7 percent) and Angola (5 percent).

Without increased international action in the next fifteen years, 69 million children under five will die from mostly preventable causes.

For approximately 1 million children in 2015, their first day of life was also their last.

The report estimates that if all mothers achieved secondary education, there would be 1.5 million fewer annual deaths of children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.3 million fewer in South Asia.

In an analysis of 75 high-burden countries, only eight are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for neonatal and under-five survival which if achieved fully would save the lives of 38 million children worldwide.

The report estimates that if all mothers achieved secondary education, there would be 1.5 million fewer annual deaths of children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.3 million fewer in South Asia.

However, with no progress, almost 950 million women will have been married as children by 2030, up from more than 700 million today. Child marriage will increasingly deny girls their childhood, limit opportunities for education and mean they will begin childbearing too early.

Child brides are less likely than adult women to receive adequate medical care while pregnant. Babies born to mothers under age 20 are 1.5 times more likely to die during the first 28 days than babies born to mothers in their twenties or thirties.

The lack of care, and the fact that girls are not physically mature enough to give birth, put both mothers and their babies at risk.

“When a girl is in school, those around her are more likely to see her as a child, rather than as a woman ready to be a wife and mother. And the experience of going to school is empowering for girls, enabling them to develop skills and knowledge, and to forge social networks that equip them to communicate and stand up for their interests.” Angelique Kidjo, Award-winning artist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador said.

Education enables women to delay and space births, secure access to maternal and child health care and seek treatment for children when they fall ill.

But the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, and many who do go to school are not learning: 38 percent of children finish primary school without learning how to read, write and do simple arithmetic.

In low-income countries, children from the richest 10 percent of the population receive around 46 percent of the benefits from public spending on education.

Based on current trends, low-income countries will not be on track to achieve universal primary and lower secondary school completion until around the turn of the next century.
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  • activist09

    Based out of Ajmer district in Rajasthan, the documentary film “Tales of our Girls” brings out the stories of every girl who is struggling against the social vice of child marriage. Bringing out the patriarchal impositions and discrimination through interviews and candid shots, this 30-minute documentary promotes a stand not against marriage
    but for an understanding of the institution and the relationships around it. The exposition of the issue is done through various case narratives, reflecting the factors and impacts of child marriage, followed by a resolution of change and hope through success stories of young women who have taken charge of their life and come out.

    View it here: www (DOT) cultureunplugged (DOT) com/play/53908