Public Health

Health Of Children Improves Around The World

Life is tough in the developing world — especially for kids.

HIV orphan in Nairobi, Kenya i i

An HIV-positive orphan lies in a cot at a hospice in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2005. Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
HIV orphan in Nairobi, Kenya

An HIV-positive orphan lies in a cot at a hospice in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2005.

Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

But there's been surprising progress by some of the world's poorest countries in fighting key causes of illness and death in the youngest children.

Around the world, deaths of children younger than 5 fell to 8.8 million in 2008 — a decline of 30 percent since 1990, according to data just put out by the World Health Organization. The WHO report card shows how countries are doing on a bunch of goals to reduce poverty and improve health by 2015.

Some other areas of progress:

  • Fewer young kids are underweight— 16 percent in 2010 vs 25 percent in 1990. 
  • Fewer people of all ages are becoming infected with HIV — new cases are down 16 percent between 2001 and 2008.
  • Thirty-eight countries are on track to hit goals for reducing malaria by 2015.

There's still lots of work to be done. While maternal health has improved in recent years, the progress is slower than needed to achieve the WHO goal by 2015.

Between 2000 and 2008, less than half of pregnant women around the world had the four health visits recommended by WHO. And in Africa and Southeast Asia, less than half women giving birth had skilled medical assistance.

 

 

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