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Facts About Child Survival

Global Overview
Over ten million children under the age of five die each year in the world's developing countries. This is equivalent to every child living in the eastern half of the United States. The majority of these deaths are readily preventable, and are the result of just five conditions: pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition and measles.

A large gap exists between the health of children in developing and developed countries; on the average the risk of death for children before reaching the age of five is twelve times greater in the developing world. Most of these deaths take place in the first year of life. Threats to health are exacerbated by the growing number of orphaned infants and children, generally due to the poor health conditions experienced by their parentsnotably HIV/AIDS and motherıs deaths in pregnancy and childbirth.



Reasons for Hope
Despite these threats to children's health, great strides have been made in the past two decades. Globally, deaths among children under the age of five decreased by 28 percent over the past 15 years, thanks to interventions designed to provide treatment for preventable conditions and common diseases. For example:

  • While diarrhea remains one of the leading causes of death in the developing world, at present one million childhood deaths are averted every year due to diarrheal preventions and appropriate treatment programs. Clean water and sanitation prevent infections, and oral rehydration therapy (a simple salt and sugar mixture, which costs only pennies and was developed through U.S. research efforts overseas) has been proven to be among the most effective public health interventions ever developed.
  • The worldwide campaign to defeat polio is an example of an extraordinarily successful private-public partnership. Over the past several years, more than 450 million children have been immunized against this disease, and the number of countries still plagued by polio has plummeted from 125 to 20. When this campaign is completed in the next few years, the polio virus will have been totally eradicated and children around the world will never again need to be immunized against the diseasea victory that will save over $250 million in the domestic medical costs in the U.S. alone, each year, forever.
  • Other immunization programs have also been successful. Global immunizations coverage has soared from less than 10 percent of the world's children in the 1970s to almost 75 percent today. Annually, immunizations avert two million childhood deaths from measles, neonatal tetanus, and whooping cough. The success of these programs in the world's poorest regions is even more striking when one considers that the vaccination rate in the United States only reached 78 percent in 1998.

U.S. Investment in Child Survival
Following is a chart that outlines U.S. funding history for child survival programs.

FY 1997 $287 million USAID
FY 1998 $281 million USAID
FY 1999 $312 million USAID
FY 2000 $295 million USAID
FY 2001 $296 million USAID

These figures exclude funding provided to Egypt and the former Soviet Union.

Source: U.S. Fund for UNICEF

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