Save the Children and activists worldwide support the Day of the African Child

from Save the Children
Published on 16 Jun 2009 View Original
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 16, 2009) - To mark the Day of the African Child, African leaders and international health activists in Washington, D.C. are joining advocates for children throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Africa in a global show of support for increased resources to lower child and newborn mortality rates in Africa.

An estimated 4.5 million children under 5 die each year in Africa, including more than 1 million who do not survive the first 28 days of life, according to a new briefing paper on child survival released by Save the Children today. Most of these deaths in Africa are due to preventable and treatable causes that rarely claim the lives of children in the world's richest countries, the report notes.

A Panel Discussion on Preventing Needless Deaths

On Capitol Hill this afternoon, Save the Children will partner with the African Union and the African Diplomatic Corps, the Global Health Council and the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival to convene a panel of African experts to discuss progress made in recent years to reduce child mortality rates in some of the poorest African countries.

Rep. Donald M. Payne, (D-NJ) chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, and Amina Salum Ali, ambassador of the African Union Mission to the United States, will be the key-note speakers at the event which will also feature a panel discussion among four Africa experts:

- Hawa Ndilowe, ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to the United States

- Abdoulaye Diop, ambassador of the Republic of Mali to the United States

- Gloria D. Steele, acting assistant administrator for Global Health, USAID

- Liya Kebede, international model and founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation, who also serves as the World Health Organization's ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children, will serve as the moderator of the panel discussion.

Meanwhile, in Africa, 13 Save the Children country offices are working in partnership with national governments, civil society groups and a wide range of international and national nongovernmental organizations to hold activities that will focus on increasing awareness of the issues of newborn and child survival.

In Ethiopia, Olympic gold medal winner Meseret Defar will help celebrate the country's recent gains in child survival in an event sponsored by Save the Children in Addis Ababa. In Liberia, thousands of children and family members will march in support of children health programs in Monrovia and cities across the country. In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, radio talk show programs will focus on the topic throughout the day.

Success in the Fight Against Under-5 Mortality

Save the Children today also is releasing a new policy report, Briefing for the Day of the African Child: Accelerated Action Towards Africa Fit for Children, that highlights recent success in reducing deaths among children under 5 in several African countries. Some examples:

- Botswana has reduced its under-5 mortality rate from 124 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 40 in 2008 - saving over 4,000 children's lives a year

- Liberia as reduced its under-5 mortality rate from 235 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 110 in 2007 - saving over 23,000 children's lives a year

- Malawi has reduced its under-5 mortality rate from 210 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 111 in 2007 - saving over 60,000 children's lives a year

Despite progress, the report notes that an alarming 25 percent of all child deaths in Africa - more than 1 million a year - take place during the first 28 days of life.

Save the Children estimates that $1.3 billion a year in additional funding could save up to 800,000 newborn lives in Africa through a comprehensive package of proven health interventions for women and babies in the region.

"Death rates among newborns remain so high in Africa that parents in many communities postpone naming their newborn for a month or more until they are certain the child will survive infancy," said MacCormack.

"Most of these deaths could be prevented by ensuring access to basic low-cost services such as immunization, skilled care at delivery and basic care of the newborn, including breastfeeding, and early treatment of infections," he said.

"Throughout the developing world, and especially in Africa, the most dangerous day in a child's life is the day a child is born," MacCormack said. "We must do more to save these lives."

MacCormack called on world leaders to help African countries meet their goal of cutting by two-thirds the number of children who die before their fifth birthday - a promise made by U.N. members in 2000, with a due date of 2015.

"During this financial crisis, the world's poorest families risk being left on the sidelines. But when the solutions that save children's lives are so proven and affordable, this is exactly the kind of investment that African leaders, and leaders of the richest nations, must prioritize," MacCormack said.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 27 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries.

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