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Five Is a Magic Number

Every child should have the chance to be five years old. The U.S. is partnering on a global effort to end preventable child deaths.

In one of the greatest humanitarian achievements of the past 50 years, child mortality has dropped by 70 percent world-wide. Tomorrow, the U.S., led by the U.S. Agency for International Development and in partnership with UNICEF and the Governments of Ethiopia and India, is launching a global effort to build upon these dramatic successes and end preventable child deaths. 

How will we save five million children’s lives each year by 2035?

First, by focusing our efforts on those places where the most deaths of children under five-years-old occur. That includes the five countries that account for 50 percent of child deaths worldwide (India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Ethiopia) and the 19 other countries that account for the next 30 percent of deaths. And, within those countries, targeting the populations most in need -- often rural, low-income and marginalized groups.

Second, by scaling up cost-effective solutions to the five most important causes of deaths for children under the age of five: pneumonia, pre-term birth complications, diarrhea, intra-partum-related events and malaria. That means doing more to expand new vaccine coverage; assist mothers before, during and after the birth of their children; prevent the transmission HIV to newborns; and get bednets to families to protect them from malaria.

Third, by also addressing the broader challenges that impact child survival, particularly girl’s education, women’s empowerment, and sustainable economic growth.

Fourth, by driving transparency and accountability through evidence-based country plans with five year targets.

And fifth, by working together – that means governments, citizens, NGOs, foundations, the private sector, leading international organizations like UNICEF – and you. (Join the effort and view the conference at

Can we achieve the end of preventable child deaths? With Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Madagascar all achieving annual rates of decline in child mortality of over five percent; with dedicated partners committed to focusing on what works; and with the shared conviction that every child deserves a fifth birthday,  I’d say yes, we can.