The State of the World's Children remains precarious, dramatized by the 280,000 who die each week. The annual report of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reminds us once again of those stark facts. Behind the facts is depressing evidence that the organization's supporters, including the United States, are not providing enough money for this urgent work.
Much has been accomplished since the world organization launched its campaign to focus global attention on ways to reduce the death toll of children in the developing nations. But much remains to be done if UNICEF is to realize its goal of saving more than 11 million lives between now and the end of the century.
In 1985, for example, there were an estimated 3,450,000 deaths that would have been preventable had the children received appropriate vaccinations. UNICEF estimates that 803,000 lives were saved by the expanding vaccination program in that same year. Those saved are among 4 million rescued from almost certain death by the UNICEF campaign to assure such basic elements of public health as universal vaccination and the availability of oral rehydration therapy in cases of diarrhea.
UNICEF has a goal that all can embrace: to bring the same generosity of response that has been mobilized for emergencies, such as the famine in Africa, to address "the silent emergency" of disease and malnutrition that takes the lives of more than 14 million Third World children every year. It is a toll that is unequaled in the history of famines, floods, droughts and earthquakes.