Efforts Reduce Child Mortality to New Lows; Save the Children Says Americans Can Help Finish the Job

Efforts Reduce Child Mortality to New Lows; Save the Children Says Americans Can Help Finish the Job

Threat of Us Budget Cuts Could Slow Child Survival Progress, but New Hit Song and Campaign Aim to Galvanize Americans

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Tanya Weinberg 202.640.6647 (O), 202.247.6610 (M)

WESTPORT, Conn. (Sept. 12, 2012) — The United States has played a major role in reducing global child mortality to the historically low levels announced today, Save the Children said. But the international aid agency urged all Americans to speak up for such efforts now, warning that looming budget battles could threaten continued progress.

Annual child deaths have fallen below 7 million for the first time, the United Nations reported today. In an effort to accelerate that progress and end all preventable child deaths, Save the Children has launched its new Every Beat Matters campaign to give Americans easy and concrete ways to help achieve this goal.

"The new child mortality estimates show that concerted efforts to get proven lifesaving care to children work and that, in the 21st century, children no longer need to die from preventable causes," said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. "But the new report also shows that the low-cost solutions that could save these lives still aren't reaching many mothers, newborn babies and children – especially those who need them most. Every American has the power to help change that."

The Every Beat Matters campaign features the band OneRepublic's new single "Feel Again," which opens with the sound of a child's heartbeat. In creating the song, the band drew inspiration from recordings of healthy children's heartbeats collected in Guatemala and Malawi. Those children are cared for by some of the many health workers trained through U.S. government aid programs.

"Feel Again" can be downloaded at www.EveryBeatMatters.org and a portion of proceeds will benefit Save the Children's child survival efforts. Other actions on the site include options to send a letter to Congress to show support for U.S. efforts and to share videos, stories and heartbeat-inspired Tweets with friends to build momentum in the fight against child deaths.

"It may seem daunting, but Americans should know that their country has been a leader in the effort to save millions of children's lives, and as individuals they can absolutely help save those who still die," Miles said. "But if people don't raise their voices now, we fear Congress could slash the tiny part of the budget that is helping some of the world's poorest countries dramatically reduce child deaths."

The new U.N. report ranks the leading causes of child death as pneumonia, premature birth, diarrhea, childbirth complications and malaria. Every Beat Matters puts a special focus on training and supporting frontline health workers who can treat and prevent these causes of death in their own communities.

The report also shows that as deaths to all children under age 5 have dropped, those occurring in the first month of life have declined more slowly. As a result, newborn deaths now account for 43 percent of child deaths, up from 36 percent in 1990. Overall, the vast majority of child deaths—83 percent—now occur in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

Save the Children said it is a critical time for Americans to help maintain momentum following a "Child Survival Call to Action," convened in June by the U.S. government together with UNICEF and the governments of India and Ethiopia. Healthier children are the foundation for more productive, prosperous and stable communities, which benefit everyone, the agency said.

"We know where the children are that still need basic care to survive birth complications and childhood disease, and we know how health workers can save them," Miles said. "It's an issue everyone can get behind, because every beat matters."

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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