February 6, 2013
Boosting child survival rates will be the focus of a national summit in Mahabalipuram, India, February 7–9 that will bring together more than 200 delegates ranging from policymakers and representatives of development agencies to global health practitioners and civil society members.
The national summit on the “Call to Action for Child Survival and Development,” jointly organized by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UNICEF and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will be an opportunity for participants to share experiences and pledge to meet India’s child survival and development goals, USAID said in a February 5 press release.
“The upcoming summit demonstrates India’s leadership and commitment to both the global community and the children of India,” said William Hammink, mission director for the U.S. Agency for International Development in India. “India has an opportunity to make great gains on child survival with increased commitment and funding for the most effective life-saving practices. Moreover, India’s unique culture of social entrepreneurship, innovation, and technological advances present a historic opportunity to accelerate progress in reducing childhood illness and death.
“The U.S. government is proud to be a part of this initiative, and we look forward to working with the Government of India as it addresses crucial child survival issues,” he continued.
In 2011, almost 7 million children — 1.7 million in India — under the age of 5 died from largely preventable diseases, according to USAID.
UNICEF Representative to India Louis-Georges Arsenault emphasized the need for a holistic approach to end preventable child deaths.
“We require a comprehensive approach that includes not only increasing coverage of key child survival interventions, but also the related social determinants such as girls’ education, maternal [under-]nutrition and environmental determinants,” he said.
“Child mortality rates are consistently lower among children living in families who access safe drinking water, an improved toilet and practice hand washing with soap. As we move towards 2015 and beyond, a renewed focus on empowering women and promoting equity in access to health services will also help guide actions for child survival,” he said.
“The Global Call to Action for Child Survival: A Promise Renewed” challenges countries to lower their national rates of child mortality to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035. Since June 2012, more than 165 countries, hundreds of civil society organizations, private sector companies and faith-based leaders have since pledged to redouble efforts to combat child survival and improve maternal health and to focus on reaching the most disadvantaged and hardest to reach children in every country.