Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 November 3; 335(7626): 908.
PMCID: PMC2048901
Shortcuts from Other Journals

Provide for the world's poorest first

In 2000, the United Nations set a target to reduce global child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 (Millennium Development Goal 4). Progress has been slow in many developing countries. To find out how to target resources better in the regions that are lagging behind, researchers looked at the likely effect on child mortality of better nutrition, clean water, and cleaner fuel in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

After a complex analysis of published research and national survey data they concluded that child mortality would fall 14-31% a year if interventions to clean up water, provide clean fuel for cooking, and improve children's nutrition reached everyone who needed them. If coverage was a more realistic 50%, then the poorest families should be targeted first. The researchers estimate that such a strategy would reduce child mortality 30-75% more than targeting the wealthier (but still poor) end of the socioeconomic spectrum. It would also be more ethical.

The researchers chose sanitation, clean fuel, and improved nutrition because they have their own millennium development goals. Clearly, being smarter with one goal can increase the chances of achieving others.


  • JAMA 2007;298:1876-87 [PubMed]

Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group