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How Cheap Investments Are Saving the World's Children

Indian schoolboys and girls walking to school at Doeli in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, Northern India, 2011
Indian schoolboys and girls walking to school at Doeli in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, Northern India, 2011 Photograph by Tim Graham/Getty Images

Each year about 15 million parents suffer the loss of a child younger than school-age. On June 14-15, health ministers from more than 80 countries, joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake, met in Washington and issued a call to action for a global effort to fight child mortality. Their goal is for every country in the world to reduce the number of kids who die before the age of five to less than 2 percent by 2035.

It’s an ambitious goal. The current global average under-five mortality rate is almost 6 percent, and in Sub-Saharan Africa it’s twice that. Achieving the 2 percent goal would involve slashing the number of under-five deaths worldwide by nearly 75 percent each year. And yet there is reason for optimism that such an objective can be realized. That’s because child mortality has reduced progressively during the last two decades, and international development aid had a major part to play in that decline.