As of today, 1,000 people around the world have posted photos of their 5th birthday in support of the Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday awareness campaign. From Secretary Hillary Clinton and Kay Warren to Tony Hawk and Mandy Moore, government representatives, faith-based and civil society leaders, celebrity activists and athletes have uploaded photos of themselves at age five to help rally the world around the goal of ending preventable child death and ensuring all children get to celebrate their fifth birthday.
Age five is an important time. It's when we start going to school, learning to read and making our own decisions. Age five is also an important milestone in the health and development of children. Over the last 50 years -- especially in the last two decades -- child mortality has fallen by 70 percent thanks to high-impact interventions like new vaccines, improved health care practices and community health workers.
Despite this progress, more than 7 million children will die this year from largely preventable causes before they turn five. In Africa alone, one in eight children will die before they celebrate their fifth birthday. In order to change this devastating narrative, we must do more.
We have the scientific, technological and programmatic advances to dramatically accelerate progress. On June 14, the governments of the United States, Ethiopia and India are working in close collaboration with UNICEF to launch a Call to Action in Child Survival. Designed to end preventable child death by focusing on the survival of newborns, children and mothers, the Call to Action will convene 700 prominent leaders from government, the private sector, faith-based organizations and civil society to kick off a long-term, strategic effort to save children's lives.
The Call to Action will not only mobilize political leadership, but also achieve consensus on a global roadmap that will highlight innovative and proven strategies to speed up reductions in child mortality. Building on the momentum generated at this event, we will also launch A Promise Renewed, an initiative to continue this critical dialogue at the country level, support the development and implementation of national strategies for ending preventable child deaths, and drive sustained action and mutual accountability.
This is truly a global effort. I encourage you to browse the Fifth Birthday photos and read the wishes that people have shared about saving children's lives. Join the movement by posting your fifth birthday or age 5 photo. Through shared action, strategic partnerships, and creative social media campaigns, we can finally bring an end preventable child death.
Follow Dr. Rajiv Shah on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RajShah