This week the global health community celebrated 5.9. The same community also mourned the number 5.9 and looked at it with determination. 5.9 million is the number of children under the age of 5 who die every year. For the very first time, this number has dropped under six million, from 12.7 million in 1990 – we celebrate. However, at the same time, this is 16,000 children per day; 700 per hour; and 11 per minute – still 5.9 million too many.
Progress is a clear indicator that we can make a difference in saving the lives of moms and babies. Progress began to accelerate after the year 2000 when the world came together under the Millennium Development Goals. Since the year 2000, the lives of 48 million children under the age of 5 have been saved.
Advocates have made a difference by continually supporting foreign assistance, helping to pass legislation such as the Water for the World Act, and advocating for current legislation, including the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.
Sometimes the numbers can be discouraging, but let 5.9 million be a reminder – there is hope, encouragement, and by continuing to work together every child can live and thrive well past their fifth birthday.
Photo: In South Sudan, the level of child malnutrition is high. Adiorak, age 1, thrives due to community gardening and nutrition programs in her community. © 2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren