South African Gauge 2019: Child and adolescent health

19 Dec 2019 - 13:30
Cover of Child Gauge 2019
Cover of Child Gauge 2019

One in every 31 children in South Africa will die before their fifth birthday. This is a sobering reality as we mark International Human Rights Day today and the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop to their full potential. We need a greater investment in child and adolescent health to ensure that the other 30 children are able to thrive and reach their full potential. Over the past 10 years, South Africa has made huge strides in reducing under-5 mortality and deaths due to HIV from a high of 79 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 32 deaths per 1,000 in 2017.


Yet most children are still dying from preventable causes such as neonatal conditions, HIV, diarrhoea, pneumonia and injuries. South Africa needs to pay greater attention to the health and development of those children who survive and address the burden of malnutrition, HIV, violence and mental health.


The South African Child Gauge 2019, which is released today, explores how the early investment in child and adolescent health offers the greatest returns on child and adolescent development and has the potential to yield a triple dividend by improving the health of children today, the adults they will become tomorrow, and the health and development of the next generation of children.


This 14th annual review of the situation of the country’s children is published by the Children’s Institute (CI), University of Cape Town, in partnership with UNICEF South Africa; the DSI-NRF Centre for Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand; The Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation; and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. The theme of the 2019 issue – “Child and Adolescent Health: Leave no one behind” – is a call to prioritise child and adolescent health and put children at the heart of the health care system.