The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations.
The 2012 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, just released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), shows remarkable progress in reducing child mortality among children under the age of five. It confirms that consistent and collective efforts to tackle preventable diseases – including polio, measles and malaria – are paying off. New treatments, better prevention and more sustained funding, have also led to a considerable decline in new HIV infections and HIV-associated deaths among children.
Global under-five mortality rates dropped from almost 12 million in 1990 to an estimated 6.9 million in 2011. On a daily basis, this means that approximately 14,000 fewer children under the age of five die than two decades ago.
Despite these positive results, almost 19,000 children still die every day – before reaching their fifth birthday – from diseases that are preventable, including diseases that have not received sufficient attention yet, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea. In the foreword of the report, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake emphasized that many of these young lives could be saved with affordable interventions: vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care. “Our progress over the last two decades has taught us that sound strategies, adequate resources and, above all, political will, can make a critical difference to the lives of millions of young children,” he said.
The report shows that all countries – whether low-, medium- or high- income – have been able to bring their under-5 mortality rates down. Vulnerable regions, however, remain sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where – in 2011 – more than four-fifths of all global under-five deaths occurred. During the same year, India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China accounted for about half of all global under-five deaths. Vulnerable populations, such as disadvantaged and marginalized people, are also at higher risk, as their children are more easily prone to face undernutrition or lack access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
A promise renewed
In June 2012, the conference “Child Survival, A Call to Action” aimed to mobilize political leadership to end preventable child deaths; achieve consensus on a global roadmap highlighting innovative and proven strategies to accelerate reductions in child mortality; and drive sustained collective action and mutual accountability. It called for governments and partners from civil society, the UN and the private sector to sign A Promise Renewed – a renewed commitment to child survival. According to UNICEF, since then, more than 110 governments have signed the pledge, along with 174 civil society organizations, 91 faith-based organizations, and 290 faith leaders from 52 countries, who have signed their own pledges of support. Together, they aim to sharpen evidence-based country plans and setting measurable benchmarks; strengthen accountability for maternal, newborn and child survival; and mobilize broad-based social support for the principle that no child should die from preventable causes.
In addition, they have jointly committed to five crucial shifts in planning and action:
1) concentrate resources on countries and regions with the most child deaths;
2) increase efforts among high burden populations;
3) focus on high-impact solutions;
4) create a supportive environment for child survival; and
5) sustain mutual accountability.
A Promise Renewed is part of the UN’s Every Woman Every Child movement, an initiative launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010.Archive of this section