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Reducing Child Mortality Rates in Brazil

A generation ago, Brazil had a staggering infant mortality rate. In 1990, Brazil reported 58 deaths per every 1,000 live births, according to UNICEF. In recent years, however, Brazil has been able to drastically lower its infant mortality numbers. As of 2011, Brazil had reduced the rate to 16 deaths per every 1,000 live births.

Meeting Goals: Reducing Mortality Rates for Children

With this impressive improvement, Brazil has met the United Nation's Millennium Development Goal, which encouraged the nation to lower under-5 mortality rates by 73 percent by 2015. During a 2012 press conference in Washington, D.C., Alexandre Padilha, Brazil's minister of health, praised this as a huge accomplishment.

"Achieving the target set by the U.N. before the deadline is a great victory for Brazil," Padilha said, as quoted by Portal Brasil.

Many internal and external factors came into play to help Brazil meet this goal, but UNICEF cited improvements to the country's health care system as a prominent reason. In the 1990s, Brazil launched various community health programs and family health initiatives to ensure its residents — particularly children and mothers — receive the care they need. Additionally, Brazil has spent the past decade working to improve sanitation and provide better maternal education, further lowering infant mortality rates.

Brazil has also received a great deal of support from ChildFund, which works in some of the most remote communities and urban favelas to fight child poverty and ensure children grow up healthy, go to school and form strong bonds with their families and communities.

Room for Growth

Brazil has worked hard to meet the U.N.'s goals, especially in improving its health care, but it still has a lot of work to do to catch up with other developed nations. As of 2011, Singapore had the lowest under-5 mortality rate, with only 2.6 deaths for every 1,000 live births, UNICEF states.

Today, the biggest challenges to continued improvement of Brazil's child mortality rate are neonatal complications; more than 65 percent of infant deaths are from birth complications, sepsis, meningitis and tetanus. According to UNICEF, pneumonia accounts for 6 percent of child mortalities, and diarrhea accounts for 3 percent.

ChildFund trains community volunteers to make home visits to help families improve their children's nutrition and health, and we also offer classes on reproductive health and child development.