Role for medical journals and general news media to raise awareness of child survival

A Comment in this week's issue of The Lancet reflects on last month's Countdown to 2015 conference on Tracking Progress in Child Survival. Two of the millennium development goals (MDGs) are critical: MDG-4 calls for a reduction in under-5-mortality rates by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. MDG-5 calls for a reduction in maternal mortality by three-quarters during the same period.

Lancet Editor Richard Horton states in the Comment: "These goals are tough but achievable…"Those of us who work at medical journals--and in the news media more generally--can do a great deal to draw attention to what are still neglected issues of child and maternal health next to, for example, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. There are currently huge and inequitable imbalances in research publications between high and low income countries. Journals, general and specialised, have an important part to play in shaping the views and behaviours of scientists, clinicians, and policymakers about issues of urgent global concern. We can be a vital bridge between these often disconnected communities".

Dr Horton concludes: "The challenge remains to think big, to persuade Prime Ministers and Presidents from richer nations to spend more time and resources on child and maternal health. The moral and instrumental arguments are all there. But, collectively, we have still failed to make the case at the highest political levels. A new Global Fund is one proposal that merits further discussion. Or perhaps a mechanism such as the International Finance Facility for Immunisation is a better model. Whatever option is chosen, advocates for child and maternal survival need to translate their passion into measurable achievements, nationally and globally. That will be the ultimate test of the Countdown when it convenes again in 2 years' time."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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