For the past 20 years, we’ve invested in health and development in low-income countries, because the worst inequality we’ve ever seen is children dying from easily preventable causes. In the United States, we’ve invested primarily in education, because a good school is a key to success, but you’re less likely to have access to one if you’re low-income, a student of color, or both.
Goalkeepers is our annual report card on the world’s progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 ambitious goals the member states of the United Nations committed to reaching by 2030. As we write, billions of people are projected to miss the targets that we all agreed represent a decent life. If we hope to accelerate progress, we must address the inequality that separates the lucky from the unlucky.
The number of children under five who die has declined steadily. The number of newborns (0–28 days old) who die has also declined, but more slowly. As a percentage of overall child mortality, therefore, newborn mortality is rising. Almost half of all child deaths now occur in the first 28 days of life. Future progress on child survival requires a renewed focus on newborn health. In addition to delivering a proven package of basic interventions, it is especially critical for low- and middle-income countries to make sure specialized care for small and sick babies is available in facilities where mothers give birth.