Warning over poverty 'blind eye'
An extra four million of the world's poorest children have died over 10 years because governments are "turning a blind eye" to those most in need, according to a report published by a leading charity.
The number of deaths of young children in developing countries has fallen but global targets will be missed if developing countries do not focus on helping the poorest communities, Save the Children said.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said it was a "global scandal" that children were dying at a rate of one every three seconds. He promised Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg would push for action at the forthcoming gathering in New York where world leaders will discuss progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Some nine million children a year are still dying "preventable deaths" often because of malnutrition and a lack of basic healthcare. But the toll has been made worse by the trend of "tackling the low hanging fruit", with many countries guilty of helping richer communities because it is "more convenient", according to the report, A Fair Chance of Life.
The target set for MDG4 was to reduce the number of deaths of under fives by two-thirds, but so far child morality has been reduced by just 28% since 1990.
Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children International's chief executive, said: "It is a disgrace that some countries are 'ticking a box' on child mortality without ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable children benefit equally.
"Nearly nine million children under the age of five die every year - many of them from easily preventable or treatable illnesses - just because they can't get to a doctor or because their parents can't afford food that is nutritious enough to keep them alive.
"Yet many governments are turning a blind eye to these deaths simply because it is easier or more convenient to help children from better-off groups.
"Governments must not be blind to the issue of equity, they must be held accountable for reducing child mortality across all groups in society, regardless of wealth or background.
"Every child has a right to survival and every government has an obligation to protect them. What's more, our research shows that prioritising the poor is one of the surest ways countries will reduce child mortality."