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Global child poverty

Almost 11 million children die annually, almost all of them in developing countries [47].

copyright: WHO/P. Virot

Determinants of child mortality[47]:

  • distal - socioeconomic factors (income social status and education)

  • intermediate - environmental and behavioural risk factors

  • proximal - undernourishment, infectious disease and injury


Poverty harms children:

"Poor children are more likely than their better-off peers to be exposed to health risks, and they have less resistance to disease because of undernutrition and other hazards typical in poor communities. These inequities are compounded by reduced access to preventive and curative interventions."[48]

Gender differences harm girl children:

"Sex disparities in health and education are higher in south Asia than anywhere else in the world. A girl in India is greater than 40% more likely to die between her 1st and 5th birthdays than is a boy. Child mortality would drop by 20% if girls had the same mortality rate as boys between the ages of 1 month and 5 years. "[48]

Like poor children in general, girl children are sicker at presentation, seen by less qualified practitioners, less likely to receive treatment and have less money spent on medication. The poor girl child is doubly disadvantaged.[48]


For more information, start with UNICEF’s publication The State of the World’s Children 2006.


47. Black RE, Morris SS, Bryce J. Where and why are 10 million children dying every year ? Lancet 2003;361:2226-34

48. Victora CG, Wagstaff A, Schellenberg JA, Gwatkin D, Claeson M, Habicht JP. Applying an equity lens to child health and mortality: more of the same is not enough. Lancet 2003; 362:233-241

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