Complex problems can sometimes be solved with simple solutions. Viet Nam has achieved significant improvements in maternal and child health by providing weekly supplements of iron and folic acid. In the Philippines progress has been achieved by encouraging breastfeeding. As a result, both countries have reduced under five mortality and lowered maternal mortality.
MDG 4: reduce child mortality
Target 4.A: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate
More than 8 million children under five die every year. Almost 90% of all child deaths are attributable to just six conditions: neonatal causes, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS. During 1960-1990, child mortality in developing regions was halved to one child in 10 dying before age five. The aim is to further cut child mortality by two thirds by 2015.
Reaching the MDG on reducing child mortality will require universal coverage with key effective, affordable interventions: care for newborns and their mothers; infant and young child feeding; vaccines; prevention and case management of diarrhoea, pneumonia and sepsis; malaria control; and prevention and care of HIV/AIDS. In countries with high mortality, these interventions could reduce the number of deaths by more than half.
To deliver these interventions, WHO promotes four main strategies:
- appropriate home care and timely treatment of complications for newborns;
- integrated management of childhood illness for all children under five years old;
- expanded programme on immunization;
- infant and young child feeding.
These child health strategies are complemented by interventions for maternal health, in particular, skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth.