In 2012, 6.6 million children died before their fifth birthday.
The year before, 287,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and there were 390,000 new HIV infections in children, with the odds in life already stacked against them. Infectious, life-threatening diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are further exacerbated by endemic rates of malnutrition and poor access to health services.
We know that good health provides dividends for life. Children who are healthy avoid permanent disability and spend more time in school. And their parents miss fewer days of work, earn more wages and have fewer, healthier children.
We’ve seen extraordinary progress over the last 50 years, as child mortality rates around the world have declined by 70 percent. In just the last two decades, 50 million children were saved, and people are living 21 years longer on average.
USAID is a vital part of that progress.
Our long-term investments in maternal and neonatal health and voluntary family planning have been paying dividends, among them:
- In 24 countries where we've been heavily involved, maternal mortality declined by 40 to 65 percent.
- Eleven of the President’s Malaria Initiative focus countries have had reductions in childhood mortality rates, which ranged from 16 to 50 percent.
- In one year, USAID-supported programs provided 29 million infants and children with vitamin A supplementation in six countries.
Today, the global community has the knowledge and the tools to do much more.
- New vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia, bed nets to protect against malaria, nutrition supplements for pregnant women and young children and a host of similar low-cost, life-saving technologies could save nearly 6 million children a year.
- At the same time, our family planning programs enable women to have children at their healthiest times, so that both the mother and infant are more likely to survive.
If we can reach children with these simple interventions, then we can help achieve the incredible goal of ending preventable child death.
To help realize this vision, we’re making strategic investments that contribute to:
- Reducing maternal mortality by 30 percent
- Reducing under-ﬁve child mortality by 35 percent
- Preventing 54 million unintended pregnancies
- Halving the burden of malaria for 450 million people, representing 70 percent of the at-risk population in Africa
Last updated: April 24, 2014