Why Reaching the Age of Five in Developing Countries is Critical to Survival

Every year over seven million children in developing countries die before the critical age of five. Research shows that once children reach the age of five they have an increased chance of surviving through adulthood, but there are several challenges they must overcome first.

This April, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), along with key partners including ONE, launched Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday, a global effort to raise awareness about the prevention methods and tools that can save the lives of millions of children every year. Most of the seven million child deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia where diseases like malaria, pneumonia, and other communicable diseases, diarrhea, pre-term birth complications, hunger and malnutrition as well as other causes take the lives of over 20,000 children a day. In fact, one in eight children die in sub-Saharan Africa before the age of five.

There is hope and progress has been made. Child mortality rates have been reduced by 70% over the last 50 years according to USAID, but progress cannot slow.

Millions of children’s lives can be saved through preventative measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets, low-cost vaccines, improved access to clean water and sanitation, medications for expecting mothers that prevent transmission of HIV to their babies, and access to proper nutrition and adequate food.

On June 14 – 15 USAID along with India’s and Ethiopia’s governments will convene the Child Survival Call to Action event at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. During the two-day event high-level talks with stakeholders, partners, members of civil society and the faith community will take place around the issue of ending the millions of preventable child deaths.

The Child Survival Call to Action event will be streamed online on June 14 and a robust conversation will take place via social media under the #5thBDay hashtag.

You can learn more about Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday at 5thbday.usaid.gov.

Photo: UN Photo/Stuart Price

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