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Few Countries on Track to Curb Maternal, Child Mortality Rates
Date:4/11/2008

Global initiative stymied by shortage of money, human resources, analysis concludes

FRIDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Three-quarters of the 68 countries most in need of improving mother and child mortality rates have made little, if any, progress in meeting internationally set goals over the past three years, according to a series of new reports.

The Countdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival, an international group that monitors these goals, still holds hope that progress can be made quickly in these underachieving nations, according to reports this week in a special edition of The Lancet.

The medical journal looks at the group's efforts in 68 "priority" or "countdown" countries, where 97 percent of the maternal and child-under-5 deaths occur worldwide. The group has set goals to reduce child mortality rate by two-thirds and maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015.

In a commentary, Lancet Editor Dr. Richard Horton calls the Countdown project's overall progress "strikingly inadequate" and concludes, "children and mothers are dying, because those who have the power to prevent their deaths choose not to act. This indifference -- by politicians, policy makers, donors, research funders and civil society -- is a betrayal of our collective hope for a stronger and more just society."

Of the priority countries, only 16 are on track to reach the goal of reducing the mortality rate in children. Three -- China, Haiti and Turkmenistan -- had made demonstrable progress to improve maternal, newborn and child survival since the countdown began in 2005. The others were either already on track when the countdown was launched or were added onto the list only recently.

Most of the countries that have made no progress, or even taken steps backward, are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Another report in The Lancet states that most of the countries being watched have made so
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