Statement from the Special Envoy on UNICEF’s Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed
“Today UNICEF released its progress report on child mortality, Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. This report delivers a sobering message that should reverberate across the global-health landscape: We must accelerate by four times the current pace of progress if we hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on Child Mortality, MDG 4, by December 31, 2015 and save the lives of 3.5 million more children whom we have no reason to lose. On the eve of the United Nations General Assembly, UNICEF’s report rouses us to the awareness that we have arrived at a singular moment, with 839 days remaining to change the course of child survival. We have made remarkable gains in recent years, with under-five mortality having declined from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012; however, the continuation of so much needless loss cannot represent victory. If we maintain on our current trend, we will not reach our goal until 2028, an unacceptable performance with far too many lives at stake.
The UNICEF report underscores that most of these 6.6 million child deaths in 2012 were preventable, as they stem from such easily and affordably treated afflictions as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and neonatal complications. In many ways, the simplicity of the problem guides us to the plan to solve it, as we must amplify the provision of life-saving interventions in key countries, lending essential support at every step.
There is much good news in the report, with some of the world’s poorest countries achieving some of the strongest gains in child mortality. Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Liberia, Nepal, Timor-Lest and Bangladesh have each achieved MDG 4, clearly highlighting how our aspirations are within our grasp. We must use these examples to draw encouragement for what is possible, but also to dismiss any excuses for why we cannot succeed.
I applaud Tony Lake for his leadership and his personal refusal to permit complacency to dull our shared resolve. His call for urgency echoes the sentiments expressed at the highest levels within the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, WHO, UNFPA and many other nations and agencies. The members of this dedicated coalition of partners have signaled their intentions to devote the resources required to achieve our important goals and save millions of lives.
I look forward to working with all of our partners, most importantly, the countries themselves that are racing to meet the goal, over the coming weeks as the UN General Assembly draws close, to determine what emergency measures we must collectively take to get on track. We possess the collective will, the effective treatments and the combined assets to surmount the once-in-a-generation challenge of ending preventable child deaths. Nothing short of an ethical obligation to our fellow human beings compels us to move forward with the intensity the task demands.”
To view the full report, please visit