Sometimes the world becomes a better place. Today we can celebrate a remarkable achievement: the number of children who die before the age of five is falling faster than ever before, dropping by half since 1990, even though the world’s population is now much larger.
The number of small children who die every year from preventable causes is still appallingly too large to contemplate – 6.3 million, or 17,000 every day. India and Nigeria together account for more than a third of those deaths.
But because of public generosity, political will, the ambitious Millennium Development Goals and growing prosperity in some of the worst-afflicted countries, genuine progress has been made. Millions more kids now survive routine killers like pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and malaria, because of immunisation, cheap mosquito nets, healthcare for expectant mothers and basic sanitation.
What lessons can we take from this? Well, primarily, setting simple, ambitious goals has worked, helping to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of people. (These goals have been far less successful in giving more children access to primary education, especially girls, and violence against women remains rampant in too many countries.)
The challenge now is to kick on: the UN is trying to get world leaders to agree new targets. They can do so with a spirit of optimism and determination.
So here we are. One day of campaigning left. I’ll return to Scotland here tomorrow.Reuse content