Lancet Comment: Child and Maternal health commitments and metrics

The Lancet  
Jun 09, 2012  Volume 379  Number 9832  p2117 – 2212

Towards ending preventable child deaths
Margaret Chan, Anthony Lake
Thanks in large part to the increased attention to maternal and child survival brought about by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),1 the world has made substantial progress in reducing child mortality over the past two decades. The number of deaths among children younger than 5 years has declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7·6 million in 2010.2 The mortality rate in children under 5 years has dropped from 88 deaths per 1000 livebirths in 1990 to 57 in 2010—a 35% reduction.2 The rate of decline in the under 5 mortality rate has accelerated from 1·9% a year from 1990 to 2000 to 2·5% a year from 2000 to 2010.

Building a future for women and children
Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival is a unique initiative in the global health landscape. Conceived in 2003 by The Lancet Child Survival Series team,1 Countdown includes academics, governments, representatives of multilateral and bilateral agencies, professional associations, non-governmental organisations, and other members of civil society who share the common goal of increasing accountability for progress towards the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The fourth report of Countdown will be launched on June 13, 2012, at the Child Survival Call to Action, following previous successful reports launched at events in London (2005), Cape Town (2008), and Washington (2010).

Keeping promises for women and children
Carole Presern, Flavia Bustreo, James Droop, Helga Fogstad, Ann Starrs, Henrik Axelson, Julio Frenk
The health of women and children has received unprecedented international attention in recent years. The UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health,1 which was launched in Sept, 2010, defined clear priorities for action to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality in 49 high-burden, low-income countries. It also called for a Commission on Information and Accountability to recommend a framework for global reporting. One of the ten recommendations called for the constitution of an independent Expert Review Group that will analyse whether commitments are being fulfilled, whether or not (and why) progress is being made, and will recommend actions to strengthen impact in the few short years left before the deadline for achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

Global child survival: beyond numbers
Zulfiqar A Bhutta
The remarkable progress made over the past decade in reducing the burden of child mortality is commendable. From an estimated annual child mortality rate of 10 million in 2000,1 now corrected to 9·6 million deaths, Li Liu and colleagues’ study2 in The Lancet suggests that there are 2·0–2·4 million fewer deaths ever year, with major reductions in the number of deaths from diarrhoea, pneumonia, and measles. Differences in methodological approaches aside, the overall figures for child mortality are similar to those published last year by Lozano and colleagues.