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Family Planning Initiatives Central To Reducing Child Mortality in Developing Countries

Focusing on family planning was a key aspect for countries that recently have made progress in reducing child mortality, according to a report released on Monday by Save the Children, the New York Times reports. The report, titled "State of the World's Mothers: Saving the Lives of Children Under 5," ranked the best and worst places to be a mother and child in 60 developing countries where 94% of child deaths occur. The report found that among the 60 countries, 20 have either made no progress or have regressed, but 24 countries have cut mortality rates for children younger than age five by at least 20%.

In the five countries with the greatest progress in reducing child mortality - Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines - women's use of contraceptives increased and fertility rates dropped, the Times reports. Women in those countries also were less likely to be physically depleted by having too many infants in a short time, according to the Times. The report also found that political will is important in reducing child mortality. According to the report, Egypt made the most progress in reducing child mortality - a 68% decline since 1990 - while Iraq had the highest increase in the rate - 150% since 1990.

Save the Children on Tuesday also released its eighth annual "Mothers' Index," which compares the well-being of mothers and their children in 140 countries. According to the index, Sweden, Iceland and Norway ranked the highest, while Niger ranked the lowest.

The report recommends that countries ensure the well-being of mothers, including providing access to contraception and quality childbirth care; investing in basic, low-cost solutions to save children's lives; making health care available to the poorest and most vulnerable mothers and children; and increasing funding and improving strategies to provide basic and effective lifesaving services to those in need.

"More than 10 million children under age five still die each year," Save the Children CEO Charles MacCormack said, adding, "That's almost 28,000 a day - almost all in developing countries. The interventions that can save these lives, such as vaccines, oral rehydration therapy and insecticide-treated mosquito nets are not expensive. Yet, many mothers and children lack access to these lifesaving measures".


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