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 May 13, 2005
Progress Slowing Against Child Deaths
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A World Bank report released Sunday finds progress by poor nations to cut needless child deaths has slowed significantly during the last decade.

Nearly 11 million children under the age of 5 die each year in developing countries, mainly from common infections that would be easily prevented or cured in wealthy nations. "Rapid improvement before 1990 gave hope that mortality rates for infants and children would be cut by two-thirds in the following 25 years," the Associated Press quotes the report as saying. "But progress slowed almost everywhere in the 1990s."

World Bank experts estimate that, at this rate, just 33 countries will meet the 2015 goal of cutting child deaths to two-thirds of 1990 levels. Only two regions -- Latin America/Caribbean and Europe/Central Asia, are on track to meet the target.

Access to primary school education, especially for girls, is key to better health and development. While 58 countries have either achieved or are close to achieving complete enrollment of eligible children, progress has lagged in Asia and Africa, the report concludes.

Worldwide, more than 100 million primary-age children remain out of school, 60 percent of them girls. "This situation endures despite overwhelming evidence that teaching children how to read, write and count can boost economic growth, arrest the spread of AIDS and break the cycle of poverty," the report noted.


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