To End Preventable Child Deaths, Look Beyond Health

By Morgan Simon

June 27, 2014   |   0 comments

Educating girls is key to helping every child reach their fifth birthday.

Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, World Bank President Jim Kim and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah are sharing their baby photos to honor the millions of children around the world who will celebrate their fifth birthdays. This playful effort is part of a serious initiative; the 5th Birthday and Beyond campaign was launched by a coalition of more than 100 organizations to celebrate the tremendous progress to end preventable child and maternal deaths around the world.

Annual under-five deaths have fallen dramatically. “Every day this year 18,000 more children will live and 700 more mothers will survive compared to the daily maternal and child mortality rate in 1990,” says Shah.

Yet despite these gains, much work remains to be done. This year 6.6 million children will die before their fifth birthday. These children mostly live in poor countries and their deaths are largely preventable. In 2012, 98.6 percent of under-5 deaths globally occurred in the developing world.

Only 27 developing countries are expected to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4: to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

Creative Associates International is committed to the goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths. Creative’s expertise in education, especially in conflict-affected areas, provides a way in.

Education, especially girls’ education, is essential to achieving the goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths and helping every child to reach their fifth birthday.

According to UNESCO, children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond age five as those whose mothers have no education. Moreover, each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5 to 10 percent.

The benefits of girls’ education are immense, extending to decreased fertility rates, improvements in child and maternal health and increased earning potential.

Girls and women with at least some formal education are more likely to use contraception, marry later, have fewer children, and be better informed on the nutritional and other needs of their children. Furthermore, education decreases a girl’s or woman’s risk for contracting HIV or transmitting HIV to her baby.

On June 25, USAID hosted Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths, a high-level forum in which it unveiled an action plan to realign its $2.9 billion maternal and child health portfolio over the next three years in an effort to end preventable child and maternal health by 2020.

The action plan delineates how 24 priority countries will dramatically accelerate progress in maternal and child survival.

The plan encourages using education to improve health outcomes. It suggests that in India, for example, partners should do more to invest in adolescents with a holistic approach to breaking down education related barriers and enhancing life skills development. In Afghanistan, it recommends including health education into the existing education system.

It points out that the immediate causes of under-nutrition in children rest atop a host of underlying factors, including: education, women’s empowerment and child marriage.

Of USAID’s priority countries, Creative Associates International works, or has recently worked, in Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to contribute to the goal of ending preventable child deaths by improving child learning and helping children stay in school.

Creative believes that every child deserves a fifth birthday.

Join us in our commitment to ending preventable child and maternal deaths by uploading a fifth birthday or age-5 photo to the birthday album!

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