A new scorecard of the 32 countries competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup shows that all have made significant progress in reducing child mortality since 1990, a statement issued by Global Health Strategies said.
The statement, issued by Ms. Emily Briskin of the Global Health Strategies, New York, and made availability to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday, said Nigeria had reduced the child mortality rate to 124 in every 1,000 live births.
It said while not all countries had progressed equally, Brazil, the World Cup hosts, led the way with a 77 per cent drop in the death of children under age five since 1990.
"The ranking, "Child Mortality: what is the Score?", is being released as run-upto the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Partners Forum, to hold in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Monday to Tuesday.
"At the conference, global leaders will call for accelerated action to improve the health of children, newborns and mothers everywhere," the statement said.
It stated that although Nigeria had reduced child mortality by 42 per cent since 1990, it still had the highest rate of child deaths of all football nations in the 2014 World Cup. "For every 1,000 births in Nigeria, 124 children will die before they reach age five," the statement said.
The statement quotes the Coordinator, Child Health, Mr. Paulo Bonilha de Almeida and Brazil's Ministry of Health, as saying that there are two main reasons for the reduction of child mortality in Brazil.
He gave the factors as expanding access to primary health care and the Bolsa Família, the world's largest cash transfer programme.
"The National Immunisation Programme increased immunisation rates among Brazilian children and the National Breast Feeding Policy more than quadrupled breastfeeding," the statement said.
It also quotes the President-elect of the Asia Pacific Paediatric Association, Mr. Naveen Thacker, as saying that "the World Cup scorecard shows that when governments prioritise child health, dramatic progress can be made."
The statement also quotes Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Canada, as saying that "simple low-cost solutions could help every country dramatically reduce newborn deaths."
The 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) shows that the infant mortality rate in the country is 128 deaths per 1,000 live births.