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Every child deserves to see their fifth birthday

World Vision
2 October 2013 by Mariska Meldrum
Every child deserves to see their fifth birthday

For World Vision's Mariska Meldrum, it's her three children who inspire her to take action against child mortality in the developing world. Pictured are her children Callum, Isaac and Elliana.

When World Vision launched its Child Health Now campaign five years ago, the goal was to end the deaths of 9.9 million children dying before their fifth birthday.

These were children dying of largely preventable causes like premature birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. Undernutrition is a factor in over a third of these deaths.

I wasn’t working with World Vision in 2009.  I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my second child.

During my final prenatal check-up at 39 weeks, the obstetrician examined my tummy and decided what had previously felt like the baby’s head was, in fact, a bottom.  An ultrasound confirmed that my baby was in the breach position – and I was duly booked in for an elective caesarean.

When my obstetrician delivered our precious daughter – at a whopping 10.4 pounds (or 4.7 kilograms) – he remarked that there was no way she could have been delivered naturally.

The comment barely registered with my husband and I.  We were too busy cuddling our new arrival and looking forward to introducing her to the rest of the family.

Today, Elliana is a chatty, bright kinder kid – counting down the months until her fifth birthday.

Just this month, UNICEF announced that the number of children dying before five has dropped from over 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. It’s encouraging to know that preventable deaths are exactly that – preventable. And we can do something about them.

But it’s also still true that the figures are shocking. And newborn children are still at particularly high risk.

If Australian children were dying in their millions each year, there’s no way we would stand for that.

As a mother of three children (two of them under five years of age), I can’t imagine what it would be like not to be able to keep my children healthy and safe.

No child should ever die from an easily preventable disease. No mother should ever have to suffer that loss. Especially when ending child deaths in the world’s poorest countries can be as simple as providing things like vaccines, clean water, nutritious food, and basic health-care services.

Unfortunately what’s still missing is a lack of political will.

That’s what World Vision’s Child Health Now campaign seeks to change by raising awareness of this issue and encouraging world leaders to take urgent action. As parents, I know it’s something we can all get behind.

What inspires you to stand up for child health? Let us know in the comments below!

Mariska Meldrum Mariska Meldrum

Mariska is a mother of three young children and is the founder of Vision Sisters. She created Vision Sisters after being moved by the conditions faced by her sisters giving birth in countries like Uganda.


4 Responses

  • Misha Bennet says:

    My children inspire me too. They’re the reason we sponsor two children. It makes you realise how we’ve won the lottery in Aus!

    • TimJ, World Vision team says:

      Thanks for taking the time to share that your children inspired you to sponsor and make a difference to improve the health care services in the communities your sponsor children live in 🙂 As you say, we are so lucky to live in this great country, with so many opportunities and options for our own children. I really appreciate that you want the same for your sponsor kids! Good to have your support Misha. All the best.

  • Karen M says:

    Thank you for the reminder of the blessing of children, and the privilege to have this country to call our home.

    • TimJ, World Vision team says:

      Hi Karen, thank you for your message to Mariska 🙂 We have the capacity to accomplish so much in this lucky country and I appreciate your support to improve health services for Mothers and their beautiful new born baby’s.

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