First the good news: ten African countries are only half as poor as they were two decades ago.
Now the bad news: child mortality rates have actually gone up, rather than down, in six sub-Saharan nations. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only region in the world that has seen an increase in the mortality rate of children under age 5. That’s according to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals Report Card released on Tuesday.
What makes this report particularly relevant to us at Cross International is that most of our work in Africa is in the sub-Saharan region. One of the six countries listed in the child-mortality report is Zambia, where Cross is providing food and education for impoverished children, home-based care for the chronically ill, and safe, accessible water for remote villages.
Waterborne illnesses and other infectious diseases are leading causes of child deaths in Zambia, while HIV remains a major threat, directly and indirectly, to the health of children. In many cases, lives can be saved by simple improvements in home sanitation and by educating HIV-infected mothers to bottle-feed their infants. Good nutrition and alternative water sources also play a big role, and children must be kept in school because they are the producers of tomorrow’s wealth, which will in turn provide the food, medical care, and healthier way of life that Zambia needs. Cross is promoting all these developments through partnerships with local Christian ministries that understand Zambia’s struggles and know how to make a difference, one family at a time, one village at a time.