Sixty-nine million children under five years of age are going to die of preventable causes by 2030 if no appropriate interventions are made. Moreover, 167 million children live in poverty; 750 million girls will become child-brides; over 60 million children of primary school age will not have access to schooling. This warning comes from UNICEF’s annual report on children around the world 2016 entitled “The right opportunity for every child”. Nonetheless, the report shows also that important progress has been made in minors protection.
With regard to the progress made, the UNICEF report states that mortality due to diseases such as diarrhea, whooping cough, tetanus, and AIDS has dropped from 5.4 million cases in 2000 to 2.5 million cases in 2015. In 29 countries, the same number of boys and girls go to school and the number of people living in extreme poverty has been almost halved compared to 1990. Vaccination programs have decreased by 80% death cases due to measles from 2000 to 2014, thus preventing the death of about 1.7 million children. Yet, these advances, according to UNICEF, “are still not fair.”
The poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday and to suffer from chronic malnutrition as the richer ones. Currently, a child born in Sierra Leone is 30 times more likely to die before reaching 5 years of age than a child born in the UK. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women who run the risk of maternal death are 1 in 36; while in high-income countries, this risk is equal to 1 in 3,300.
The most uncertain future scenario is the one in Sub-Saharan Africa, where at least 247 million children (2 of 3) live in multidimensional poverty, deprived of what they need to survive and develop, and where about 60% of young people between 20 and 24 – who belongs to the poorest 1/5 of the population – has received less than four years of schooling. If present trends continue, by 2030, in sub-Saharan Africa will occur: half of the 69 million child death cases due to preventable, more than half of the 60 million children in primary school age who do not attend schools, and 9 children out of 10 will live in extreme poverty.
The 2016 report presents a “bleak picture of what the future of the poorest children, unless governments, donors, international organizations and the business community accelerate their efforts in favor of these children’s needs”. The report shows that “investing on the most disadvantaged children can give benefits in the near and long term. Inequality is not permanent or insurmountable.”