Committing To LATAM Child Survival


Latin America cut its child mortality rate by more than half over the course of the last two decades, making the region as a whole an “incredible success” in the survival of children under the age of 5.

“But,” said USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Ariel Pablos-Mendez, “There are many countries that are not yet there, and within each of those countries there are states that are not doing well.”

To speed up improvement in child mortality rates worldwide, government officials from Ethiopia, India, and the United States, along with UNICEF, held the “Child Survival: A Call To Action” summit in Washington, D.C., last June. More than 700 people from the private and public sectors, non-profit groups, and faith-based organizations, including representatives from more than 80 countries, attended the forum.

Under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, more than 170 countries have pledged to scale up efforts to lower preventable child death rates to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035.

Dr. Pablos-Mendez said that although some affluent areas in Latin America have already reached this goal, others are far behind.

He noted that the problem is complex:

“These goals are not reached inside the countries, states, districts or population groups, where the infant and maternal mortality is still high and requires attention, new technology and investment.”

Despite dramatic economic growth and social development in Latin America in the past few decades, there are still some barriers in health care based on class, gender, and ethnicity.

The countries of Latin America will focus on an equitable approach and increase their efforts in poorer regions to stop the common killers of children younger than 5: neonatal complications such as asphyxia, preterm birth and sepsis, diarrhea, pneumonia malnutrition, and lack of immunization.

Pablos-Mendez said the next Call to Action summit will take place in Panama September 10-12th, 2013.

“We hope that this momentum adds up in the region and helps us achieve the vision that no child dies before his or her fifth birthday, and that every child can enjoy [his or her] childhood and a happy life”

The United States is committed to child survival in Latin America. For the first time in history, the tools, knowledge, and experience are available to achieve this goal.