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Save the Children Reports Greater Focus on Poor Children Could Have Saved 4 Million Lives

Upcoming U.N. Summit on Millennium Development Goals Must Consider Equity

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 09/07/10 -- Four million children have died in the last decade because advances in reducing child mortality have failed to reach poorer children, Save the Children said today.

"Some notable progress has been made in reducing child deaths in recent years, but 8.8 million newborns and children still die each year," said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Too often, where children live or how much money their parents have determines whether they will receive proven, low-cost, lifesaving care. We must all work to end these fatal inequities -- not only between countries, but within countries themselves."

Save the Children released its new analysis two weeks ahead of a United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals, which the United States and all countries adopted in 2000. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other leaders will launch a new Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health to accelerate progress on the child and maternal health goals.

Since 1990, the global child mortality rate has declined by 28 percent. That falls well short of the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4 (a two-thirds reduction by 2015). Still, many high-mortality countries have substantially reduced child deaths, and 19 of 68 high-priority countries are now expected to meet MDG 4.

"We know that ending preventable child deaths is very achievable, and so we welcome the Secretary General's push for renewed commitment on child and maternal health," Miles said. "As a broad array of leaders take up this cause, they can save millions of lives. But they must make sure that progress reaches the poorest children as well."

In a new analysis of national health data, Save the Children looked at 42 high-mortality countries and found that poorer children in those countries are far more likely to die. If all children had faced the same risk of death as the top 20 percent in their country, 4 million child deaths would not have occurred in the last 10 years.

The findings underscore a great gap in reaching the poorest with essential health care, including pre-and post-natal care, skilled attendance at birth, and low-cost prevention and treatment for major child killers pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Save the Children found inequity in child survival to be a persistent and sometimes growing problem in many of the world's developing countries, where 99 percent of all child deaths occur.

Save the Children's new research is launched today alongside UNICEF's study "Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals," and its flagship report "Progress for Children: Achieving the MDGs with Equity." The publications highlight that targeting the most disadvantaged children is not only right in principle, but also in practice and could save the lives of millions of children.

Save the Children works across the MDGs to ensure progress for children around the world. The agency has a global campaign to end preventable newborn and child deaths, and reaching the poorest and most marginalized children is central to its work.

Save the Children works with governments and communities to train and support community health workers who can reach deep into communities where access to hospitals and clinics is limited or impossible. The agency has also pioneered techniques to successfully involve marginalized members of communities in improving the quality of and access to health care.

To learn more about Save the Children's campaign to save newborn and child lives, visit www.GoodGoes.org.

Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org) is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world.

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Wendy Christian
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