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Analysis Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health

Children’s health priorities and interventions

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4300

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  1. Wilson M Were, medical officer, child health services1,
  2. Bernadette Daelmans, coordinator policy, planning and programme1,
  3. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Robert Harding chair in global child health and policy2, director3,
  4. Trevor Duke, professor of paediatrics and clinical director4,
  5. Rajiv Bahl, coordinator, research and development1,
  6. Cynthia Boschi-Pinto, medical officer, child epidemiology1,
  7. Mark Young, senior health specialist and chief, child health unit5,
  8. Eric Starbuck, adviser, child health and pandemic preparedness6,
  9. Maharaj K Bhan, national science professor7
  1. 1Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Center for Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada
  3. 3Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  4. 4Centre for International Child Health, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  5. 5Health Section, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), New York, NY, USA
  6. 6Department of Global Health, Save the Children, Fairfield, CT, USA
  7. 7Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to: W M Were werew{at}

Wilson Were and colleagues explain why the global community should continue to invest in children’s health, to complete the unfinished child survival agenda and tackle the emerging child health priorities

Globally, deaths in children aged under 5 years declined by approximately 50% from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013, but progress has been insufficient to achieve the millennium development goal 4 target of a two thirds reduction by 2015.1 The good news is that many countries have been able to accelerate the decline in under 5 mortality in the past two decades, more so following the launch of the United Nations secretary general’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in 2010.2 However, 17 000 children under 5 still die every day, largely from preventable communicable diseases and malnutrition; among those who survive, an estimated 200 million children are unable to attain their full developmental potential.3 4 At the same time, congenital anomalies, non-communicable diseases, and injuries are becoming increasingly important causes of morbidity and mortality in childhood.5 As a consequence, the decades ahead will be marked by this dual burden of childhood diseases, affecting most countries.

Here, we define children as aged 0-10 years. We present evidence based essential interventions to end preventable child deaths and promote healthy growth and development6; and we provide strategic directions in support of the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the sustainable development goals agenda.


This paper is based on the forecasted changes in the distribution of causes of death in under 5s as countries move towards an absolute target of 25 or fewer deaths per 1000 live births by 2030. We estimated changes in the profile of the causes of death by examining the current distribution of causes of death …

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