UNICEF new report has shown how investing in the health and survival of the most deprived children and communities in the world helps saves almost twice as many lives as every $US1m as equivalent investments in less deprived groups.
According to the report, ‘Narrowing the Gaps: The power of investing in the poorest children’ presented in New York, presents compelling new evidence that supports a prediction UNICEF made in 2010: the higher cost of reaching the poorest children with life-saving, high-impact health interventions would be outweighed by greater results.
The study shows that improvements in coverage of life-saving interventions in poor groups helped decrease child mortality nearly three times faster than in non-poor groups.
Other key findings include:
Access to high-impact health and nutrition interventions has improved most rapidly among poor groups in recent years, leading to substantial improvements in equity.
Since birth rates were higher among the poor than the non-poor, the reduction in the under-five mortality rate in poor communities translated into 4.2 times more lives saved for every million people.
Of the 1.1 million lives saved across the 51 countries during the final year studied for each country, nearly 85 per cent were among the poor.
The findings come at a critical time, as governments continue their work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which set a target of ending all preventable deaths among newborns and children under the age of five by 2030.
Intensified focus on equity-enhancing policies and investments – and monitoring gaps in coverage – can help countries achieve this target.
UNICEF believes, the time to act is now. By reaching the poorest communities with the most cost-effective health interventions, we can avert 70 million under-five deaths by 2030, says the UN agency in its preface.