Editorial—Primary Prevention and the Future of the World's Children


Previous editorials in this column have been time travels to distant pasts. The present editorial focuses on time future, specifically the future of the world’s children. I will draw on a variety of sources that provide interesting, sometimes shocking, information that primary prevention specialists in theory, research, practice, and policy should know. My chief guide is Chandrika Kaul’s (2002) Statistical Handbook on the World’s Children. The references are given that refer to specific tables and figures in the Kaul book. The time frame is usually year 2000 statistics, with other times noted. The commentary about these statistics are mine. First, let us be clear we are talking about nearly one in four persons (39%) of the world’s population as being a child (defined from age birth to 19). This is about 2.38 billion people. Of course, the proportions differ greatly depending on which regions of the world we examine. For example, Africa has 53% of its population between these ages, while Europe has only 24%. (Kaul, 2002) To express this in a different way, the average population growth rate of Africans is 2.4% while Europe has a 0% growth rate, and North America 0.9%. Replacement rates for human populations have recently been changed downward, from 2.1 to 1.85, a demographic fact of staggering proportions (Wattenberg, 2003). Projections of population for children by 2025 suggest that Africa will decrease to 23.9% children. This reflects, in part, the current death rate in children from birth to age 14 (in 1999) from HIV/AIDS (Bryan & Johnson, 2003; Cornman & Johnson, 2003; Kaul, 2002; Marsh, Johnson, & Carey, 2003). Europe will have a projected population of children at 5.8% and North America 7.1%. Asia is projected to have 57.6%, up from its current 40% (Kaul, 2002). However, infant mortality rates (defined as infant deaths per 1,000 live births) follows like a dark shadow, with Africa showing a rate of 87 per 1000, while Europe has the lowest at 11. South America falls in between at 33 (Kaul, 2002). It is important to identify specific countries where future preventive work becomes increasingly necessary. In 1998, the under-5 years mortality rates of representative countries were as follows: The highest ranking was Sierra Leone at 316 infant

DOI: 10.1023/B:JOPP.0000048042.10118.b8

Cite this paper

@article{Bloom2004EditorialPrimaryPA, title={Editorial—Primary Prevention and the Future of the World's Children}, author={Martin L. Bloom}, journal={Journal of Primary Prevention}, year={2004}, volume={25}, pages={305-308} }