Today, UNICEF released a new report, Narrowing the Gaps: The power of investing in the poorest children, highlighting that investing in the health of the world’s most deprived children is not only morally principled, it is highly cost-effective. The report presents compelling evidence that investments in children living in the poorest households save almost twice as many lives per US$1 million as equivalent investments in non-poor communities.
The report draws on new data from 51 countries where approximately 80% of all newborn and under-five deaths occur. The findings point to improvements in coverage of life-saving interventions among poor groups helped decrease child mortality nearly three times faster than among non-poor groups. The interventions assessed in the study include: antenatal care visits, skilled birth attendance, early initiation of breastfeeding, insecticide-treated bed nets used to prevent malaria, full immunization and care-seeking for sick children.
“Children that grow up in poverty are still twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as more affluent children, and largely from preventable causes—this is unacceptable and we can do better,” said Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Health in Agenda 2030 and for Malaria. “Investing in the health of our most vulnerable children is not only the right thing to do, it will help set us on a path toward breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty.”
The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations have set a target of ending all preventable deaths among newborns and children under the age of five by 2030. The report projects that unless greater progress in reducing child mortality is achieved, by 2030 almost 70 million children will die before reaching their fifth birthday.