Poor progress in efforts to curb child deaths

Posted: 21 April 2005

The World Bank has warned that progress is lagging in a United Nations campaign to reduce child deaths and expand educational opportunities by 2015, and has called on rich countries to come up with additional financial aid.

"Wealthy donor countries need to help developing countries which are serious about giving all their boys and girls a quality primary school education with the additional finance and support they will need to boost enrolments, start training extra teachers, build more classrooms and improve the quality of education," said Jean-Louis Sarbib, the Bank's Senior Vice President for Human Development.

He was commenting on the Bank's latest World Development Report, which found that five years into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015, only 33 countries were on track to meet that target.

The report found that nearly 11 million children in developing countries die before the age of five, mostly from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria.

The main challenge is Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Bank, where deaths of children under five has declined only marginally from 187 per thousand in 1990 to 171 in 2003, the last year for which figures are available. The goal in Africa is to reduce that figure to 62 deaths per thousand by 2015.

Mixed results

Efforts to expand primary education have likewise yielded only mixed results, with 51 countries, mostly in Latin America, likely to meet the 2015 objectives.

The Bank said that worldwide more than 100 million children of primary-school age are not receiving a formal education; almost 60 per cent of them are girls.

The Bank cited studies indicating that higher levels of education for girls and women are associated with increased economic productivity, lower rates of maternal and infant mortality and lower fertility rates. On overall poverty levels, the Bank report disclosed that the average daily income of those living on less than a dollar a day rose from 72 and 83 cents between 1981 and 2001.

But in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of poor in those years doubled from 164 million to 313 million, average income for those living on less than a dollar a day fell from 64 to 60 cents.

Source:Agence France-Presse,18 April 2005