More than 34 million children’s lives have been saved since 2000 because of investments in child health programs at a cost of as little as $4,205 per child, according to a new analysis in The Lancet.
The report was produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and by a UN Secretary-General special envoy.
The article’s authors found that to save a child’s life, the average cost is US$4,205 in low-income countries such as Tanzania and Haiti, $6,496 in lower-middle-income countries such as India and Zambia, and $10,016 in upper-middle-income countries such as Botswana and Thailand. Costs generally increase as costs of interventions in countries rise.
“You can spend $4,000 on many different things, but there are very few places where the money would deliver the kind of impact you get by investing it in child health,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME director and professor of global health at the University of Washington School of Public Health. “If you invest in the poorest countries, you will see the biggest impact in child health because the costs of things like nutrition programs, vaccines, and primary care are lower.”
The analysis builds off the work of an international collaboration of researchers and, for the first time, creates a scorecard that allows governments, policymakers, and donors to track investments in child health and to link those investments to child deaths averted across countries in a comparable manner.
Researchers found that from 2000 to 2014, low- and middle-income country governments spent $133 billion on child health, and private and public donors – mostly in high-income countries – spent $73.6 billion.