​In 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide – 18,000 children per day – died before reaching their fifth birthday, according to the latest report released by UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), The World Bank Group and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division.

Handwashing in school in Ghana.jpgThis is roughly half the number of under-fives who died in 1990, when more than 12 million children died.

“This trend is a positive one. Millions of lives have been saved," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. "And we can do still better. Most of these deaths can be prevented, using simple steps that many countries have already put in place – what we need is a greater sense of urgency.”

The Child on Day 1,001

The first 1,000 days are a critical window in a child’s development, and as increased progress and efforts continue to ensure more children reach their fifth birthday, it is now as important as ever to not forget the health and well-being of the child on day 1,001.

To maximise the impact for the greater good of children, investments which adopt a child-centric approach are essential. Such investments include School Health and Nutrition (SHN) interventions which improve the education, health and nutrition of school-aged children especially girls, in low and middle-income countries.

Disease and malnutrition is still a major burden among school-aged children and children who begin school with the worst health status, have the most to gain from health and nutrition programmes. They also have the most to gain educationally, since they show the greatest improvement in cognition as a result of health intervention.

SHN programmes recognise the direct links between good health and good education and the role of schools as a cost-effective provider of both and have become globally recognised as important contributors to countries’ efforts to achieve Education For All and other Millennium Development Goals focused on child health and development.

Children who survive past day 1,001 continue to need a range of inputs to help them grow up and realise their full potential, not just for good health, but for good education, good food and a supportive society.

Useful Links

  • Download the report Levels and Trends in Child Mortality
  • Read more about School Health and Nutrition Interventions​.