Helping Moms Prevent Child Deaths
The number of annual deaths among children under 5 worldwide dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. But the promising trend doesn’t discount those 6.6 million who died. Their main killers are pneumonia, preterm-birth complications, other childbirth-related complications, diarrhea and malaria. And undernutrition contributes to 45 percent of deaths in kids under 5.
Preventing child deaths requires more than just a focus on children — it requires care for mothers, too. Compassion’s Child Survival Program combats child deaths by offering prenatal care, education and encouragement, nutritious food, spiritual nurturing and ongoing health care for mothers and their babies.
Here are a few ways that Compassion partners help prevent child deaths:
- The Child Survival Program teaches moms the importance of breast-feeding. Children who are exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life are 14 times more likely to survive than children who aren’t breast-fed, according to UNICEF.
- Compassion teaches mothers practical skills such as how to prevent illness, and also offers the chance for illiterate women to learn to read and write. Children of educated mothers — even mothers with only primary schooling — are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.
- Compassion church partners make regular home visits for hands-on, one-on-one training and encouragement. Trained workers monitor health and maintain records for each child and mother, ensuring that children are immunized against diseases. Early postnatal home visits promote healthy behaviors that reduce child deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Children Gain Protection Along With Legal Status
Compassion and International Justice Mission are working with churches in Thailand to protect nearly 2,000 children in Compassion’s program whose lack of Thai citizenship makes them more vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
Traffickers find their slaves by preying on the most vulnerable. Lack of legal status, closely tied to poverty, compounds this threat and also excludes a person from social programs. Some of the most vulnerable people live along the border between Thailand and Myanmar. They include hill tribes who have lived in the mountains between Thailand and Myanmar for generations, and refugees who have fled oppression and violence in Myanmar and now live in camps hosted by the Royal Thai Government. Without citizenship, they are denied access to health care, permission to travel between districts, legal protection from abuse, and access to education.
Since 2011, Compassion Thailand has been helping stateless children and their families to seek citizenship. Compassion Thailand and International Justice Mission work with local churches to determine whether these families are eligible for legal status and prepare documents to submit to the government.
While the effort is ongoing, it has already improved the lives of children such as 13-year-old Yutthasak. His family’s lack of citizenship had limited the children’s educational opportunities — some weren’t even able to attend secondary school — and restricted the family from traveling without government permission. With their newly acquired citizenship and identification, his family can travel freely, and the children receive the same educational benefits as other Thai students.
Nations Make Strides in Cutting Poverty
Many countries working to reduce suffering by 2015 have made significant progress, a new report shows. But with 1.2 billion people still living in extreme poverty, there’s a lot to be done by next year.
In 2000, leaders from every country committed to reach eight Millennium Development Goals by September 2015. Each year, the UN issues a progress report. The 2013 report shows mixed results in regions where Compassion works.
A Few Findings of the UN’s Progress Report:
- Growth outpaces poverty reduction.
- Africa has the most child and maternal deaths.
- Overall, Africa has halted the spread of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. But some regions saw increases in the diseases.
- Food insecurity is affecting other health goals.
- The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 per day has fallen from 50 to 22 percent.
- The number of people without access to safe drinking water is down from 856 million to 466 million.
- The region appears unlikely to meet goals for eradicating hunger, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Education coverage and access have improved.
- Gender equality is slowly progressing.
- Only a third of countries appear likely to reduce their infant mortality by 50 percent by 2015.