World loses 6 mn under-five children every year: Unicef

Geneva, June 23 (IANS) The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Tuesday warned that millions of children worldwide continue to live in poverty, lack access to education while suffering from chronic malnutrition and about six million die before they turn five.

Focusing on child-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the UN in 2000, Unicef’s report — Progress for Children: Beyond Averages: Learning from the MDGs — highlights the importance of placing those most in need at the centre of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, Xinhua reported.

If progress remains at current levels, and if projected population growth proves to be accurate, Unicef estimates that 68 million more children under five will die from mostly preventable causes by 2030 while some 119 million children will still be chronically malnourished in 2030.

These figures come despite the headway made since MDGs implementation, as under-five mortality has dropped by over half, underweight and chronic malnutrition among under-fives has decreased by 42 and 41 percent respectively and maternal mortality has decreased by 45 percent.

Amid the progress made in child survival, nutrition, reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and primary school enrolment, Unicef considers these achievements to be “only part of a story”.

Figures show that 47 percent of the one billion people living in extreme poverty today are 18 years or under, while the poorest children are not only almost twice as likely to die before age five than their richest counterparts, but also five times more likely to be out of school than the latter.

According to the UN agency, enhanced local health, education, and social protection systems should be encouraged to help more children not only survive but also thrive, while investments tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable can furthermore yield short and long-term benefits.

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