UNICEF report shows value of investing in health of world's poorest children

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A two-year-old girl is held by her mother as she is prescribed a course of medication to treat malaria at a community clinic in rural Kasungu district, Malawi. Photo: UNICEF/Hubbard

Unless the world scales up efforts to reduce child mortality by 2030, almost 70 million children will die before celebrating their fifth birthday.

The warning comes in a new report from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which says investments in the survival of the world's most deprived children saves more lives per dollar spent.

Dianne Penn reports.

Even though reaching poor children and communities is more expensive per capita, investing in them provides more value for money, according to the UN agency. 

The report draws on data from 51 countries where around 80 per cent of all newborn and under-five deaths occur. 

It found that improving life-saving interventions among poor groups in these countries helped decrease child mortality rates nearly three times faster than in non-poor groups. 

These actions included using insecticide-treated bed nets, full vaccination, early breastfeeding and the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery. 

UNICEF said the findings come at a critical time as governments continue their push to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDG targets include ending all preventable deaths among newborns and children under the age of five by the deadline of 2030. 

Dianne Penn, United Nations. 

Duration: 1'00"

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