Significantly fewer children are dying globally

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Global health professionals and researchers are working to measure the status of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to determine if the 2015 targets will be met.

Promising new research shows MDG 4 devoted to reducing child mortality has significantly improved in the past two years.      

UNICEF's 2007 "Progress for children: A world fit for children statistical review" explained, "The benefits of reaching MDG 4 are enormous. If the goal is achieved, the deaths of 5.4 million children under five will be averted in the year 2015 alone (as compared to the situation in 2006). But if current trends continue and the goal is not achieved, an additional 4.3 million child deaths could occur in 2015 alone."

MDG 4's essential goal is to achieve two-thirds reduction in mortality in children younger than five years between 1990 and 2015.

Therefore researchers funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, US and the School of Population Health at University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia published their assessment of child mortality for 187 countries from 1970 to 2010 on May 24 in the online edition British medical journal, The Lancet.

The authors wrote, "Robust measurement of mortality in children younger than five years shows that accelerating declines are occurring in several low-income countries. These positive developments deserve attention and might need enhanced policy attention and resources" and nations like UK, US and Canada might want to take note as they are pulling their weight amongst high-income nations.

The global mortality ranking scorecard for 2010 places the UK at 28, with 1 being the best and both US (42) and Canada (33) are behind the majority of high-income nations.

Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Nigeria still have the highest rates globally and the greatest challenge to meet MDG 4 by 2015 but theoretically not impossible given "66 countries have decreased child mortality by more than 30% in just 5 years" including Japan, Liberia, Poland, and Portugal.

54 (31 developing) countries are all on target to meet MDG 4, the study wasn't able to identify what interventions have made the greatest impact but noted, "immunisation, insecticide-treated bednets for malaria prevention, treatment to prevent mother-child HIV transmission, and antiretroviral drugs could all be aiding this accelerated decline" highlighting the need for "country case-studies" to identify if "we link the accelerated declines in mortality to the delivery of known, effective interventions? Are there policy lessons on how governments and other organisations have tackled particular child health problems?"

In the interim, here are the 54 nations that are poised to achieve MDG 4,ranked in order of country with the highest annual decline in under-5 mortality:

Maldives

United Arab Emirates

Cyprus

Portugal

Oman

Turkmenistan

Viet Nam

Sri Lanka

Egypt

Czech Republic

Slovenia

Malaysia

Serbia

Tunisia

Luxembourg

Singapore

El Salvador

Lebanon

Greece

Hungary

Italy

Peru

Poland

Libya

Nepal

Estonia

Chile

Mongolia

Austria

Syria

Algeria

Sweden

Bhutan

Cuba

Montenegro

Albania

Armenia

Thailand

Brazil

Norway

Bahrain

Israel

China

Moldova

Iceland

Mexico

Bangladesh

Honduras

Barbados

Croatia

France

Costa Rica

Spain

Turkey

Full study to be available on May 24, "Neonatal, postneonatal, childhood, and under-5 mortality for 187 countries, 1970-2010: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4": http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/onlinefirst 

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