Bangladesh Call to Action: Ending Preventable Child Deaths before 2035

Ambassador Dan Mozena spoke at Bangladesh's Call to Action launch
"I am not surprised that Bangladesh, once again, is showing the way on health." - Amb Mozena at the Call to Action launch
Save the Children/Ishtiaq Mannan

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Linda Quamar

On Sunday, July 21st, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) committed to ending preventable child deaths in the country before 2035. This commitment builds on the impressive progress that Bangladesh has made in reducing maternal and child mortality and improving the health and wellbeing of mothers and children over the past 40 years.

To achieve this goal, the Government pledged to scale up interventions that are proven through rigorous research to address the remaining preventable causes of child mortality in Bangladesh. A special emphasis would be placed on ensuring the survival of newborns, the youngest and most vulnerable citizens, through simple and cost-effective interventions. Throughout this effort, which would involve a broad-range of stakeholders, the Government would regularly monitor progress towards this landmark goal.

ln this connection, Professor Dr. A.F.M. Ruhal Haque MP, Minister, GOB Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said: "Bangladesh has achieved significant success in reducing under-S child mortality. However, the rate of neonatal mortality reduction is comparatively slower than the overall under-five child mortality reduction. We need to address this now as 60 percent of child mortality in Bangladesh is due to neonatal mortality."

The three main reasons for neonatal deaths are birth asphyxia, neonatal infections, prematurity and complications at birth. lt is indeed a challenge to take effective steps against this as 71 percent deliveries still take place at home. On the other hand, the main reasons for the death of under-S children are pneumonia, drowning and diarrhoea. Under nutrition is yet another challenge for Bangladesh which is a major contributing factor to child mortality. Among the under-five children, 41 percent are experiencing stunted growth. Bangladesh is committed to scale-up comprehensive nutrition packages for women, infants and young children.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said: "There's a lot to learn from Bangladesh. Between 1991 and 2011, under-five deaths fell by almost 75 per cent, thanks, in part, to its commitment to innovation and knowledge-sharing. The challenge now is to achieve high levels of coverage of existing and new interventions, such as vaccinations and skilled birth attendants, by targeting the poorest populations where infant and child mortality remain high.”

Bangladesh has stepped up its efforts to bring down neonatal and child mortality to 20 per 1,000 live births by 2035 along with 23 other countries of the world. The success in achieving this target, however, depends on the partnership and ownership of the private sector, development partners, UN agencies, professional bodies, civil society and the population at large.

USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah, said: "ln June 2012, at the Child Survival: Call to Action Summit, I had the pleasure of watching the Government of Bangladesh join the international community in committing to end preventable child death by 2035. Proven through rigorous research, the set of life-saving interventions identified in this Call to Action today represents a costed plan that is results-oriented and makes all parties accountable for tracking progress toward this landmark goal. "On behalf of the U.S. Agency for lnternational Development (USAID), I would like to congratulate the Government of Bangladesh on its vision and leadership, as well as the partners for their contributions towards this impressive progress. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Government of Bangladesh and the citizens it serves. Together, we will strive for a future where every mother has the opportunity to see her child celebrates his or her 5th birthday."

The U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, attended and gave remarks at the event.  USAID Bangladesh Mission Director Richard Greene accompanied Ambassador Mozena.  The event was covered by all major Bangladesh print and electronic media.