Save the Children

Save the Children

October 23, 2013 09:01 ET

Niger Leads World on Tackling Child Deaths, Says Save the Children

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 23, 2013) - Niger leads world on tackling child deaths, says a Save the Children report, but globally, four million more lives could have been saved if governments' efforts had focussed equally on the poorest children.

One of the world's poorest countries, Niger, ranks top in a new evaluation of countries' progress in tackling preventable child deaths developed by Save the Children. Despite having scarce resources and recurring droughts, Niger has cut the number of under-fives dying unnecessarily by nearly two thirds since 1990 and is on track to achieve the UN's global goal on child mortality.

The country's progress is striking because - unlike others - it has managed to do better across all income groups, and in the countryside as well as urban areas.

Save the Children's 'Lives on the Line' report warns that other countries that have made dramatic gains in child health - like Bangladesh and Cambodia - risk seeing this progress stall unless they tackle inequality.

Save the Children's Global Campaign Director, Patrick Watt, said: "We are making historic gains in the fight against child deaths but this headline success also often masks that poor children are being left behind and, in extreme cases, are doing worse."

"World leaders must ensure that children of all backgrounds have an equal chance to survive. Niger's political leadership and investments have made them the country to watch for continued dramatic progress in ending preventable child deaths for good."

The report looks at how 75 key countries which account for nearly all maternal and child deaths are progressing towards the UN's millennium development goal on child mortality.

For the first time, the research uncovers not just how quickly countries are advancing, but also whether progress is equitable - across different social, regional and income groups - and is also sustainable, in terms of political will.

Niger tops the index thanks to a combination of free health care for pregnant women and children, nutrition programmes and a drive for universal access to basic quality healthcare. Although child mortality remains high, the country has reduced it from 326 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 1990, to 114 deaths per 1,000 in 2012.

Rwanda, Indonesia, Madagascar, and India have also shown similarly equitable and sustainable progress, topping the index. Liberia and China also scored very highly overall, but there is insufficient data to show whether this progress has been well-distributed and equitable.

At the other end of the spectrum lie Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea with slow and unequal reductions in under-five mortality rates and low levels of investment in health and nutrition.

In some regions inequality is getting worse even as they are making overall progress. In sub-Saharan Africa - an area concentrating half of all child deaths - the gaps between rich and poor children widened between 1998 and 2008.

Save the Children is calling upon governments to:

  • Publish and implement costed national healthcare plans that reach every child, including newborns, with the objective of reaching full coverage by 2030.
  • Launch a national campaign to reduce malnutrition so that every child has the nutrition they need to survive and thrive.
  • Increase public spending on health.

Notes to Editors:

- Coinciding with the report launch, 50,000 children from 60 countries across the world will participate in Save the Children's Global Day of Action for Child Survival - a global relay race aimed at breaking the world marathon record and raise awareness on the hidden crisis of millions of under-five children dying from preventable causes every year.

- The figure of four million additional lives that could have been saved in 40 high burden countries had progress been equal in all income groups comes from Save the Children's report "A fair chance at life."

- The number of under-five children dying annually from preventable causes has been reduced from 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. However, the world remains off track to meet the fourth UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG 4) to reduce preventable under-five mortality rates by two thirds in 2015.

1. Niger
2. Liberia
3. Rwanda
4. Indonesia
5. Madagascar
6. India
7. China
8. Egypt, Arab Rep.
9. Tanzania
10. Mozambique
66. Comoros
67. Guatemala
68. Myanmar
69. Turkmenistan
70. Philippines
71. Lesotho
72. Morocco
73. Haiti (tied for last)
74. Equatorial Guinea (tied for last)
75. Papua New Guinea (tied for last)

To view the 'Lives on the Line' report, please visit the following link:

To view the child-friendly report, please visit the following link:

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