Listen: The total number of under-5 deaths worldwide has declined dramatically in the last 20 years
"In a week like most others when the news has been dominated by the grim and the frightening almost unnoticed has been a report showing that humankind is making huge strides in one particular area of development namely child mortality reports from the World Health Organization and the bill and Melinda gates foundation released this week have certain that in almost all countries of the world the number of children dying before the age of five has fallen over the past twenty years in the year two thousand the figure was nearly ten million child deaths by twenty seventeen that figure was almost. even as the world's total population continued to grow a story to celebrate but not apparently covered by most news organizations it's something to do with the way we produce and consume news an old bug bad for my colleague Michael blast and the date has been staring at this for years the trend unmistakable and amazing what sold is how many miss it one expert used to quiz people about big trends and compare their own sister the random guesses of chimpanzees the chimps one every time educated audiences with systematically wrong. you've gotta ask where we get our information well from the news which overlooks the trends in favor of certain events shapes perceptions with timing and disaster and so we miss one of the most colossal changes in human welfare. well now we know Michael last month but here on the world this week we like to try a little bit harder so let's drill down into these latest child mortality figures James Gallagher is the BBC's health correspondent econ say that having fewer children dying all around the world is anything other than a tremendously good story it is tremendous and incredible progress warmly how's it been done I have to be honest it's really quite boring stuff is what you would call the hash tag basics aids can people access to clean water good quality nutrition basic medicines things like antibiotics and vaccines that prevents infections will help children when they have them but also one really big thing is being improving the cat around the world for pregnant women and at that moment in childbirth because that first month of life it's the most dangerous point to be a life as a child that's when you'll most likely to die and so improving CAD that moment in time has also had this huge impact when you say improving can. eventing under fives from dying it's relatively simple stuff yeah absolutely I mean this is not correct really complicated tens of thousands of dollars innovative brown you health Calacanis of the C. rolled out on health services in your friend the United States is the stuff that medicine is known for decades it's really simple really easy today having medical staff that can be that when things go wrong during labor having drugs things like antibiotics if a child has an infection that early days having things like the new moon a call cold vaccine to be able to give to children said of that last night to get pneumonia which is one of the major killers of children say these are not complicated things but the challenges in some of the horrible will tune parts of the world the doing the basic things can be incredibly difficult and is that she figuring out the ways of getting everybody access to the things that we know what that's been the challenge and that means not just getting governments to be committed to doing that but also they have to be able to get the message out so it requires infrastructure in terms of roads and communications requires education in terms of nursing and medical stuff it's an across the board ever which has to be undertaken which is why you see in some countries the results are a bit more patchy in that which areas of countries fed better than the poorer less developed areas you're completely right if I was to suddenly become a multi billion Aragon just gonna pay for load of doctors I know you said that you can actually get them to the people that need them it's about building an environment and infrastructure that allows people to access these resources is not just about getting hold of them in the first place and that's where you often see these rich versus poor divides within countries this urban versus rural divide where if you live in a city you're gonna be physically much closer to a hospital than you are where is more than a hundred kilometers away from where you live down a dirt road. in amongst this good news story though there are as you explained great instead of patches it's a truism to say that the poorer parts of the world you live in the great the danger that there's going to be high rates of infant mortality yeah it takes the let me give you a couple think it's safe you to look at sub Sahara Africa and the proportion of children that died before the fifth birthday just just think about that fifth birthday in sub Sahara Africa one in thirteen children die before they turn five the further north Europe is one in two hundred I mean that is a dramatic Gulf despite the fact those improvements all around the world they're a particularly in Africa still policy Southeast Asia whether all high levels of infant mortality that coming down but then no way near as good as they theoretically could pay and yet this is undoubtedly a good news story why does it not get the sort of coverage that well other stories that okay by the headlines do well I think bits of it have been maybe we sometimes you don't always see the complete picture say we've reported many times the tremendous progress that has been made same tackling malaria malaria kills overwhelmingly young children so we seen little aspects of the story but I would say that apart from over soon very fine programs like this journalism can be very bad at looking at the big picture sometime with so focused on the here and now the latest break through war developmental crisis that actually sometimes we do just need to take a step back look at the big picture and that she sees something that's been staring us in the face the for two decades child mortality is basically halt it's a tremendous success story and how we talked about it no way near as much as we should have done James Gattaca that's it from the well this"