#ReachEveryChild in 2024

By: Results Canada Published: 01/01/2024

“The biggest failure we have in providing health care to mothers and children is a failure of imagination… If we can send a rover to Mars, we can imagine a world where mothers and babies can live long and healthy lives.” – Dr. Paul Farmer, medical anthropologist and co-founder of Partners In Health.

When asked in 2020 what made them happy and healthy, children from diverse countries and circumstances echoed the same, simple sentiments – family togetherness, safety from violence, clean environments, and access to education.

Over the past 50 years the world has seen dramatic improvements in survival, education, and nutrition for children worldwide. In just the last 30 years, under-5 child deaths have decreased by more than half, thanks in large part to vaccines. Before the pandemic, more children than ever before were accessing education around the world, helping create more prosperous communities. This is a triumphant demonstration of what science, community, political commitment, and international cooperation can do – something we need more of in an age of conflict, pandemics, and climate change.

Canada played a huge role in driving this progress towards child survival and well-being, and we can certainly be proud of this leadership. Canada has historically allocated resources and championed policy changes that support big impact for the children who needed it the most – from the 2010 Muskoka Initiative to help prevent maternal and child deaths, to the 2018 Charlevoix Declaration to improve access to education for girls and women living in emergencies, and its continued support to lifesaving initiatives like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents.

However, despite these revolutionary initiatives and the resulting progress in child survival, today’s children face an uncertain future and progress for children’s outcomes has stalled. Children comprise more than 50% of those living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 333 million living on less than $2.15 a day. They are bearing the brunt of multiple crises – from the intensifying effects of climate change to the spread of armed conflicts and the scars caused by COVID-19-related disruptions to health and education.

We are already seeing the predictable consequences on children: an estimated 70% of 10-year-olds around the world are unable to understand a simple written text, 45 million children under 5 are affected by wasting (the most life-threatening form of malnutrition), and 1 in 5 children are un- or under-vaccinated. Climate disruptions are further placing children at risk with extreme weather events, water and food insecurity, emerging infectious diseases, and large-scale population migration forcing more than 40% of the world’s children to live in informal settlements.

This puts the world far off track on meeting the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end all preventable child deaths by 2030 and to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education to all. If this trend is allowed to continue, the damage will continue to be counted in lives and quality of life.

There are solutions. We know more about the health of mothers and babies over the past 10 years than we did in the century before that​. 2024 will see three of the biggest stories in immunization since the 1980s:

  1. For the first time, a vaccine to fight malaria, an illness that remains the leading cause of death for children in many African countries, will be deployed;
  2. Numerous countries have committed to scaling up and vaccinating millions of girls against Human papillomavirus (HPV), an effort that could see us defeat cervical cancer;
  3. In countries affected by polio, we now see trends that were once seen in places now polio-free. They suggest that, not only did we enter the last mile, but that the finish line is in sight.

These innovations – along with routine immunization drives and the immense work of community health workers who make health care accessible to millions of children every day – will be game-changing. Healthy children also learn better and, with adequate nutrition, are more productive and can create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of poverty and hunger.

The evidence is clear: investments in children's health, education, and development have benefits that compound throughout the child's lifetime, for their future children, and society as a whole. We need to make these investments now and ensure no child anywhere is deprived of the benefits of these innovations and investments.

To discuss the crises of our times and to reboot systems to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, world leaders will meet at key global events – from the G7 and G20 Summits and the United Nations General Assembly. These moments have the potential to mark substantive progress towards transformative solutions that #ReachEveryChild.

That’s why Results Canada is launching a year-long campaign focused on what we know Canada must do to ensure we #ReachEveryChild with transformative investments in health, education, and nutrition. Starting January 2024, we will call on Canada to invest in innovations, initiatives and partnerships that help:

  • Remove barriers – from gender to economics – that prevent health care workers from reaching children, particularly those un- and under-vaccinated, with lifesaving vaccines and medical innovations and care, which are critical to achieving the SDGs commitment to “leave no one behind”.
  • Recover lost ground in the global setbacks to progress made in access to quality education, to address the learning crisis and ensure that all children and especially those on the move or living in emergencies can access their human right to education
  • Respond urgently to the unparalleled malnutrition and education crisis among millions of children in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in emergency settings brought about by protracted conflicts, natural disasters, and climate change.​
  • Raise and amplify voices of children and youth who have the greatest stake in the future and are powerful forces for change by providing high-level platforms for them to share their concerns and ideas to reach the SDGs and to claim their rights to a healthy future and planet.

Change is possible if we work together. We need policy changes, political will, more investment into the health of children and women, and health care workers. And ultimately, we need to commit together that we no longer accept preventable deaths of mothers and babies around the world. The world has come so far so quickly in our understanding of how to save lives. Together, we can translate that knowledge into tangible progress. We have no time to lose.

what that plan looks like

Throughout 2024, we will focus on the ways Canada can step-up and ensure that transformative investments in health, education, and nutrition can #ReachEveryChild.

January-February – Call for #AChildrensBudget

​As we enter the new year, it’s clear that children are bearing the brunt of conflicts and disasters. This year, we need Canada to continue and build on its legacy of being a leader on this issue. We need #Budget2024 to be #AChildrensBudget. We will call on Canada to increase its International Assistance Envelop (IAE) by CAD$600 million this year, in line with the government’s commitment to increase the IAE each year, and to ensure that investments in health, nutrition, and education can #ReachEveryChild.

March – Fight to End Tuberculosis (TB) in Children

To commemorate World TB Day on March 24th this year, we will highlight how children are being left behind in the global quest to end the world’s leading infectious disease killer TB – notably through the lack of effective tools available to test and treat TB in children. Children are the most difficult population to test and treat for TB, as diagnostics tools and treatment regimens have been historically designed for adults. We will continue our ongoing ask for Canada to increase its investments in TB research and development and to help develop and increase access to new TB tools, including child-friendly options.

April – Financing for Nutrition ​

The International Development Association (IDA) is the arm of the World Bank that provides funding for the world’s lowest income nations, representing the largest aid fund for these countries. IDA will fundraise in 2024 and donor representatives, including Canada, will be meeting in April in Washington DC to set priorities for where this funding goes. It will be important to ensure that nutrition is given priority, especially for early childhood development, a period when lack of proper nutrition can have irreversible effects on growth and wellbeing. In addition to addressing chronic malnutrition, it will be important to see to it that a special fund is set aside to address nutrition crises that are triggered by natural disasters or political turmoil and require quick interventions.

May-June - Early Childhood Development in Emergencies​

2023 reminded us that disaster, war, and conflict can strike at any time, completely disrupting daily lives and often forcing families to flee their communities for safety. Around the world, crises are on the rise, with children often the most impacted and hardest hit by circumstances well out of their control. In 2024 we will build off our #ChampionChildrenInEmergencies efforts and examine the policy commitments and financial investments needed to ensure that all children, no matter where they live have access to what they need to grow up and thrive, including immunizations, nutritious food, education, protection, and caregiving. By examining ways in which civil society, the government, and multilateral organizations coordinate in emergency settings, we will advocate for greater coherence across all the life-saving services children in emergencies need in the early years of their lives.

July-September – Investing in Immunization and Strengthening Health Systems

Canada has an opportunity to build on its legacy of supporting child health by investing in two lifesaving mechanisms: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Since 2000, Gavi has ensured more than 1 billion children have been immunized, thereby preventing more than 17 million deaths. When the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched 30 years ago, polio paralysed more than 1,000 children worldwide every day. Today, we are witnessing an astonishing 99.9% decrease in the global polio burden. However, health systems in low- and middle-income countries are still recovering from the pandemic and the ongoing convergence of crisis has delayed recovery. There are still at least 14 million children who have received no vaccination. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, that why we will be advocating for Canada to renew its commitment to both these mechanisms.

October - International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP)

At Results, we believe a world free of poverty is possible and with the right tools and trainings in advocacy we have the power to have a big impact. To mark IDEP – a globally recognized day to stand in solidarity with those living in poverty – Results Canada’s staff and volunteers will raise awareness of the power of advocacy and the work that Results does. IDEP is our day to build momentum and ramp up efforts to achieve our mission by educating others about our work, recruiting people to join our movement and fundraise.

November-December – Political and financial commitment to end malnutrition

The Nutrition 4 Growth (N4G) Summit is a global event held every 4 years to take stock of the world’s progress in fighting malnutrition and is a platform for countries to announce financial and political commitments to combat malnutrition on a global scale. In early 2025, France will host the N4G, but the months leading up to the Summit will be critical in mobilizing ambitious and measurable commitments from Canada. Canada has long been a leader in nutrition, and this is reflected in its 10-year commitment to global health and rights, through which it supports initiatives such as Nutrition International and the Global Financing Facility, among others. In the lead-up to the Summit, we will advocate for Canada to be ambitious in its commitment to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms.

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