Worldwide efforts to aid children are making a difference

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

If you want proof that worldwide efforts to reduce infant mortality are working, look no further than a report released Thursday by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

According to this two groups, the number of children who die before reaching the age of five has decreased significantly in the last 20 years, from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010.

And, yes, that 7.6. million figure is still staggeringly obscene. For people who work with children, though, the improvement is staggerlingly encouraging.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Consider this: In 1990, 88 of every 1,000 children born died before age five. By 2010, that  number was reduced to 55 of every 1,000, with about half of those deaths coming from India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

That means efforts of organizations such as UNICEF, WHO and countless other volunteer agencies to improve medical care; provide immunizations; clean water; and food are making a difference. Even in places such as sub-Sahara Africa, which famine grips the countryside, the infant mortality rates are improving.

So what does that mean? We need to continue our global effort to reduce infant mortality rates. We think, first and most often, or remote regions: third-world nations where running water is scarce and medical care is a luxury.

But we also need to focus on the issues at home, where ignorance and economics prevent many women from seeking proper prenatal care and where too many infants continue die. In Alabama, for example, our infant mortality rate was 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births –significantly better than the global average but, still, one death seems to many.

Our children, whether here iin Alabama or across the world in India, depend on us for survival. Adults must provide the food, the medical care, the shelter, the protection and, most important, the love that will nurture them.

Sometimes, given the challenges of famine and drought, war and sickness, poverty and ignorance, it can seem a daunting task. But as the statistics show, we are making a difference.

We need to keep making that difference today, tomorrow and long into the future.