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Among World Cup countries, Brazil leads in saving children's lives

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th July 2014 05:02 PM

If the World Cup were to be won by the country that has achieved the most progress in reducing the number of child deaths since 1990, it would be Brazil.

Among World Cup countries, Brazil leads in saving children's lives

If the World Cup were to be won by the country that has achieved the most progress in reducing the number of child deaths since 1990, it would be Brazil.

trueBy Catherine Mwesigwa Kizza

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 If the World Cup were to be won by the country that has achieved the most progress in reducing the number of child deaths since 1990, it would be Brazil.


Today, for every 1,000 births in Brazil, just 14 children will die before their fifth birthday – down from 62 in 1990 which is a 77 per cent reduction.

A scorecard released by the Global Health Strategies ahead of the Partners Forum 2014, a global summit on maternal, new born and child health held in Johannesburg South Africa last week ranked 32 countries competing for the 2014 World Cup on their progress in reducing child mortality.

Brazil achieved this by expanding access to primary health care and a cash transfer system, Bolsa Familia that allows all its citizens to access health services regardless of ability to pay.

Paulo Vicente Bonilha de Almeida, the child health coordinator for the Brazilian Ministry of Health attributed their success to increased immunisation rates among Brazilian children, and the National Breastfeeding Policy which more than quadrupled breastfeeding.

Explaining how Bolsa Familia works, Almeida said the programme provides cash transfers to poor families in exchange for ensuring that children receive vaccines and attend school. Today, for every 1,000 births in Brazil, just 14 children will die before their fifth birthday – down from 62 in 1990.

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Coming on the heels of Brazil is Portugal with a 76% reduction in under five child mortality since 1990. Its child mortality rate dropped from 15 deaths per every 1,000 children in 1990 to the current 4 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

The three countries on the scorecard with the least reduction in child mortality are United States of America, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire with reductions of 37%, 30% and 29% respectively.

Though the USA for example, has not made as significant reductions in child mortality, at seven deaths for every 1000 births, it fairs far better than Brazil’s 14 deaths per 1,000 births.

Also, at 95 deaths per 1,000 live births, Cameroon’s child mortality rate is lower than Nigeria’s124 deaths per 1,000 live births though the latter achieved a 42% reduction since 1990 but of all the 32 countries on the scorecard, has the worst child mortality rate.

If Uganda had made it to the 32 World Cup contenders


With a child mortality rate of 69 deaths per 1,000 live births today, from 178 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990, Uganda has made a 61% reduction. To achieve the MDG target, Under Five deaths need to drop to 59 for every 1,000 births by 2015.

Ethiopia attained a 67% reduction in the Under Five mortality ratio which declined from 204 in 1990 to 68 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012. They achieved their MDG4 target by deploying over 35,000 community health workers to increase access to healthcare services in rural areas. UNICEF reports that the community health workers track immunization, test for diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria, and monitor hygiene in homes.

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Ethiopia’s progress proves that success does not necessarily require sophisticated hospitals and intensive care units.

Most of the deaths in children under age 5 occur in the first 28 days of life explains  Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, co-director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Canada. She says that simple, low-cost solutions could help in dramatically reducing this.

 “For example, wiping the umbilical cord with a disinfectant reduces deaths by half. Putting the baby onto the mother’s chest and encouraging breastfeeding also help prevent life-threatening infections,” she said.

And these solutions do not in any way cost as much as preparing a team to contest for the World Cup.


New Scorecard Ranks Cup Contenders on Reducing Child Mortality Since 1990

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Among World Cup countries, Brazil leads in saving children’s lives

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