New report shows progress in reducing child mortality

Some of the poorest countries in the world have cut young child and maternal mortality rates by half or more, according to a recent report by collaborative organization Countdown to 2015.

The report, called "Accountability for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival," emphasizes gains in improving maternal health and reducing child mortality in some countries. The report also points out countries where progress has been lacking.

Countdown to 2015's report notes significant progress in expanding the reach of programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and vaccinate children against life-threatening illnesses like tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria. The report found that more effort is needed for other life-saving interventions like postnatal care and antibiotic treatment of pneumonia for newborns and women.

"Progress is especially happening in countries where governments are using evidence to guide investment and policy decisions, and where all stakeholders - including the U.N., donors, corporate and civil society - are working together effectively to create real change for women and children," Mickey Chopra, the chief of health for UNICEF and co-chair of Countdown to 2015, said.

The report found that Cambodia, Botswana and Rwanda made major progress in reducing mortality since 2000.

Countdown to 2015 is a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary collaboration of governments, international agencies, academics, healthcare professional associations, nongovernmental organizations and donors that assesses progress in the 75 countries that account for more than 95 percent of all child and maternal deaths. The evidence gathered is meant to support progress toward achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals four and five by 2015.