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Kids Struggling to Survive, UNICEF Says

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Fewer children are dying around the world, but 17,000 children under 5 still die every day, the U.N. children’s agency said Friday. The UNICEF report looks at progress made since the 1990s in promoting children’s health and well-being and finds some things are better — vaccination and clean water for instance. But around the world, “Children are torn from their families, recruited into armed groups, and made to fight and die for causes they can barely understand,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake wrote in the report.

Some findings:

  • One in four kids in the United States — a rich country — lives in poverty.
  • More than 700 million women alive today were married before they turned 18 and a third of them before 15.
  • More than one in five women give birth before they turn 18.
  • The global under-5 mortality rate has been reduced by almost half but pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria kill 5,000 children under age 5 each day.
  • A quarter of the world’s children under age 5 are stunted.
  • Violent discipline remains common, with rates of beating and other violent attacks on children ranging from 90 percent in Yemen, Ghana and Tunisia to about 45 percent in Panama and Costa Rica.
  • In 2013, 250,000 teenagers aged 15–19 were infected with the AIDS virus.

“When we invest in a child’s health, nutrition, protection and survival, we do more than just save a life. As child survival improves, so of course does life expectancy. A one-year improvement in a population’s life expectancy is associated with a 4 per cent increase in national economic output,” Lake wrote.

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