A topic that is rarely talked about because of the melancholy subject matter is child mortality rates. It is especially difficult to report on deaths that could have been prevented.
1990 marked an all-time high for child mortality. Over 12 million children passed which were classified as preventable or illness related, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
Fortunately twenty-five years later, the child mortality rate has tettered off to 5.8 million, a statistic that should be applauded. That means that there are 17,258 fewer deaths per day. Malnutrition is the culprit that plays a large role in child death, according to David Pelletier, President at The Society for Implementation Science in Nutrition and professor at Cornell University.
“Malnutrition increases the severity of most infectious diseases,” Pelletier said. “If children were not malnourished, the mortality due to those diseases would be cut in half.”
Statistically speaking, both IMHE and Global Deaths by Cause don’t classify malnutrition as a factor that results in death. Instead, they deem it a “risk factor.” But malnutrition plays an enormous role in the child mortality rate.
“These sources only regard infectious diseases as the true ’causes,'” Pelletier said. “This is a misinterpretation of the science. Malnutrition and disease interact at the biological level within the child, to kill children. They are co-equal causes.”
We can thank advancements in medicine, education, and economic growth for the lowering of the child mortality rate. We don’t die from minute illnesses anymore.
Economic growth is a huge contributor to this drop in child mortality. Economic growth allows parents to afford doctor visits to receive advanced medicine. Economic growth also attributes to education opportunities.
Education not only helps children; it also helps their parents. Family planning and the ability to gain a stronger economic standing gives families a chance to get out of poverty.
“When a mother can choose how many children to have, her children are healthier,” Bill Gates wrote. “They’re better nourished, their mental capacities are higher—and parents have more time and money to spend on each child’s health and schooling. That’s how families and countries get out of poverty.”
In short, we can thank the growth of society and technological advancements for lowering child mortality rates.