From Evidence to Action: USAID Promotes Behavior Change to Reduce Child Mortality

| Intl Programs, Monday Letter, Our World

USAID-LogoThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), hosted the Behavior Change Evidence Summit for Child Survival June 3-4 to ensure we are all doing what works best to end preventable child deaths and ensure healthy growth and development. The Summit brought together global leaders to determine what is needed to change health-related behaviors in lower and middle income countries (LMICs) and reduce under-five mortality.

The Summit was more than a specific event; it was a part of an extended process that will result in important products and action plans for policy, programmatic and research recommendations grounded in scientific evidence, resulting in positive behavior change and increases to child survival in developing nations. Country-level ownership of this process is vital, and the summit sought to create ways to strengthen national and local capacity.  Every child – no matter where they live – deserves a 5th birthday.

This year, nearly 7 million children will die before they turn five.  While most of these children are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many countries worldwide are falling short of achieving the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals focused on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Most of what needs to be done to bring down the rate of child deaths is known — getting children to sleep under a bed net, and ensuring they receive life-saving vaccines and nutritional supplements — but the social and behavioral barriers can be complex.

“We have the technology and know-how to change this brutal fact of life,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID. “In the 1000 days leading up to December 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, new vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia, bed nets for malaria, and nutritional supplements for pregnant women and young women, could save nearly 4.4 million children.  Life-saving tools must be widely accessed and properly used at the correct time. This requires a sustainable shift in health-related behaviors.”

To read the entire press release, visit