About 4 million fewer children worldwide under the age of 5 are expected to die in 2001, compared with 1990. Deaths of women in pregnancy and childbirth declined from 409,000 (1990) to an estimated 274,000 this year. Countries doing particularly well include China, Egypt, Iran and Libya, among others. Still a long way to go, but the trend is encouraging.
Main reasons for the improvement involve money, of course. Money for mosquito nets and malaria treatment, improved hospital care of women in labor, and an enhanced focus on maternal-child health in general.
Biggest factor? Improved education of young women, according to William Heisel, a spokesman for the Gates Foundation. Education allows women to make better decisions about getting pregnant, and to take better care of themselves during pregnancy, and their babies and children afterward.