A ‘long way to go’ on childhood development

    There has been significant progress in promoting childhood well-being over the past 20 years. Nonetheless, the international community still has a “long way to go” in meeting related Millennium Development Goals, which in themselves are “modest” targets.

    A new report that tracks global progress in improving childhood well-being notes a “significant decline” in child mortality rates and in the number of children affected by HIV. Children’s access to primary education and nutrition programs have also improved, the report by the Overseas Development Institute says.

    This progress, according to the report, was driven by a combination of strong political leadership, increased domestic spending, well-executed programs, social change, technological innovations and economic growth.

    But the challenges remain huge: child mortality rates are still high, only a small percentage of babies with AIDS receive treatment, and pre-primary enrolment rates in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are extremely low. The report also notes that progress has lagged on efforts to provide clean water to children and to protect them from abuse and exploitation.  And even in areas where there have been significant advancements, progress is marred by inequalities between and within countries, the report adds.

    Multifaceted action is needed to address these challenges, the report says. It urges both donors and recipients to fill “significant financing gaps” in childhood development and calls for a greater focus on income and gender inequalities.

    Further, the report recommends moving beyond the MDG targets, which it says are “in many ways modest.” The international community should not only aim to reduce children-related problems by half but instead “work to ensure that achievements reach all children,” the report concludes.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.