The United Nations children’s agency today commended the Government of Bangladesh for committing to end preventable child deaths in the country before 2035, building on its success of lowering maternal and child mortality.
“There’s a lot to learn from Bangladesh. Between 1991 and 2011, under-five deaths fell by almost 75 per cent, thanks, in part, to its commitment to innovation and knowledge-sharing,” said UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“The challenge now is to achieve high levels of coverage of existing and new interventions, such as vaccinations and skilled birth attendants, by targeting the poorest populations where infant and child mortality remain high,” Mr. Lake added.
About 60 per cent of child deaths in Bangladesh happen during the first 28 days of birth, mostly due to birth asphyxia, neonatal infections, prematurity and complications at birth, according to the Government of Bangladesh and UNICEF.
Taking effective steps to counter neonatal deaths is a “challenge”, UNICEF has said, as 71 per cent of deliveries in the country still take place at home.
In addition, the main reasons for deaths of children under the age of five are pneumonia, drowning and diarrhoea. Malnutrition is also a threat, with 41 per cent of children in the same age group experiencing stunted growth.
Despite these obstacles, the Government has pledged to scale up “simple and cost-effective” interventions involving a broad range of stakeholders and to regularly monitor progress.
Among its plans, the Government has committed to scaling-up nutrition packages for women, infants and young children.
Bangladesh is one of 24 countries that have stepped up efforts to bring down neonatal and child mortality to 20 per 1,000 live births in line with UNICEF’s global initiative known as ‘Commitment to child survival: a promise renewed’.
These efforts also move the country further in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5 on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by 2015.