Meeting UN goals can lower childhood mortality

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NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) A combination of environmental and nutritional programs that target the poor can substantially reduce childhood mortality globally, new research suggests.

The findings illustrate how working toward environmental and nutritional United Nations Millennium Development Goals can help achieve other goals, in this case improving child survival, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

''The results of our analysis demonstrate that complete coverage of effective interventions that address child undernutrition and provide clean water and sanitation and clean household fuels would reduce child mortality by an estimated 14 percent to 31 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa,'' senior author Dr Majid Ezzati and colleagues note.

''These benefits would close 30 percent to 48 percent of the current regional gaps toward the Millennium Development Goals' target for reducing child mortality,'' Ezzati, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conclude.

Their study involved an analysis of data from national Demographic and Health Surveys for 42 countries. Child mortality data was provided by the World Health Organization.

Fifty percent coverage of Millennium Development Goals' targets for child nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and clean household fuels would cut child mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa by 26,900, 0.51 million, and 1.02 million, respectively, if the interventions were started in poor populations first.

This is up to 75 per cent larger than the mortality reductions seen if the interventions were begun in wealthier populations first, the researchers note.

''We showed that environment and nutrition intervention can take us a long way in achieving the child survival Millennium Development Goal target; these benefits would be larger if those who received interventions were the poor, even if the better-off families needed the intervention as much,'' Ezzati told Reuters Health.

REUTERS ARB KP0817

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