IMPACT

We're Making Real Health Progress That's Saving Kids' Lives. Here's Proof In One Chart

03/10/2015 10:11 am ET | Updated Mar 11, 2015
Pascal Deloche via Getty Images

The world has made significant progress in ensuring more kids live to see adulthood -- just check out the blue bars.

Child mortality has gone down in all but two of 24 causes of death considered in the Global Burden of Disease report by the University of Washington's Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. A graph by Wired depicts the percentage changes in global deaths of children under age 5 in 1990 and 2013.

As Wired reported, "deaths from a host of diseases, from tetanus (preventable with a vaccine) to malnutrition (preventable with food) are down." The largest declines came from more than 80 percent drops in deaths caused by both tetanus and measles.

Last week, Bill Gates tweeted the graph, saying it tells "a great story."

Although the largest increase in deaths between years were caused by HIV/AIDS -- which went up 80 percent -- there's still reason to be optimistic in the fight against the virus. Peter Hotez, a dean at Baylor College of Medicine who blogged about the study's findings, told Wired that child deaths due to HIV/AIDS went up between the years in the study, but has since declined.

What's more, the "same" is true for malaria -- the other mortality factor that experienced an overall increase on the graph, but is currently declining.

The findings go hand-in-hand with other big picture data tracking global health. In Bill Gates' annual letter published in January, the billionaire philanthropist pointed to United Nations' data that found about one in 10 children died before the age of 5 in 1990 -- in 2013, it was one in 20.

Gates letter predicted that "the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history," and increased access to vaccines, proper sanitation and better health systems will be to thank.

"[By 2030,] almost all countries will include vaccines for diarrhea and pneumonia, two of the biggest killers of children, in their immunization programs," Gates wrote. "Better sanitation -- through simple actions like hand-washing as well as innovations like new toilets designed especially for poor places -- will cut the spread of disease dramatically."

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