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Improving infant health: What’s the role for social policy?

Dean Jody Heymann & WORLD's Aleta Sprague: "Paid leave is a powerful example of a policy that has the potential to strengthen infant health outcomes by supporting parents to provide the best care they can."

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Improving infant health: What’s the role for social policy?

By Dean Jody Heymann & Aleta Sprague

Over the past two decades, the global community has achieved remarkable progress on infant and child health. Since 1990, the under-five mortality rate has fallen by half, while the share of children receiving basic vaccines has increased across the board.

Still, around 5.9 million children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday, including 4.5 million that die in the first year of life. Newborn babies are especially vulnerable to infections. Currently, 19.5 million children are missing key immunizations, leading to preventable illness and death. What’s more, progress on global vaccination coverage has come to a standstill at 86%.