The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) brought needed and increased attention to child survival. Globally, significant progress has been made in reducing child mortality. The number of under-five deaths declined from 9.6 million in 2000 to 7.6 million in 2010. Under-five mortality fell from 73 per thousand in 1990 to 57 per thousand in 2010. On average, under-five mortality has been falling at a rate of 2.5 per cent per year compared with 1.9 per cent per year over 1990–2000.
The rate of reduction doubled in Sub-Saharan Africa when compared with the previous decade. There is evidence that this rate of decline is accelerating as we approach 2015. New initiatives, such as the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, have added guidance and resources to the achievement of the goals. The subsequent establishment of the Commissions on Information and Accountability and on Life-Saving Commodities will add to the benefits for women’s and children’s health.
Still, despite accelerated progress, the global burden of maternal and child mortality is still unacceptably high. Over 280,000 maternal lives and 7.6 million under-fives’ lives were lost in 2010. Most of these losses would have been preventable with interventions that already exist. We know what these interventions are and what they require to be implemented. Unfortunately, we still fail to reach a large proportion of mothers and children with them, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where most of maternal and child deaths occur. We need to find the ways to ensure that every mother and child has access to these interventions and can benefit from them.