Inequality Has Transformed Surviving Childhood Into a Global Postcode Lottery

Friday, May 29, 2015

You may already know the grim statistics: every day, 17,000 children under the age of five die; nearly half of them are newborn babies.

Almost all these deaths – which occur in just a handful of countries – could be prevented. The inequalities between countries are stark. A child born in Angola is 84 times more likely to die before the age of five than a child born in Luxembourg.

Contrary to what you might think, this is not just an issue in poor countries. It applies to poor communities everywhere, including those in some of the richest countries.

Every child’s life is precious. But right now, a child’s chance of survival is determined almost entirely by luck: where he or she is born, the income and education level of the parents, and other social and environmental factors that have a direct impact on health.

This means that despite the progress achieved, we have failed to reach the ones who need it the most – the poorest, the most disadvantaged, the most vulnerable. It is inexcusable that so many children die because they miss out on basic, cost-effective health services.

So what do we need to fill this equity gap?

  • A skilled health workforce. Many newborn deaths can be prevented by having a trained birth attendant nearby, someone with knowledge of simple, life-saving methods such as kangaroo mother care and exclusive breastfeeding, the latter of which is the single most effective intervention in high mortality settings. Skilled health workers are critical for providing care during childbirth and in the crucial week that follows, when more than 40% of child deaths occur.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care