The need to protect the life and health of children is enshrined in various international instruments that establish the State's obligation to take all possible action immediately to protect children from a preventable death.
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which entered into force in 1976, establishes that every human being has the inherent right to life and that this right shall be protected by law. According to the Human Rights Committee, this requires the State "to take all possible measures to reduce infant mortality and to increase life expectancy, especially in adopting measures to eliminate malnutrition and epidemics".
Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which entered into force in 1990, States Parties must "ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child". Article 24 of that Convention sets out all the requirements relating to the health of the child and the mother, including that States parties shall take appropriate measures "to diminish infant and child mortality".
The Millennium Development Goals have also give children health a great importance for the development of countries. Goal 4 has one single target and is measured by three indicators which in a great extent address the degree of social development, and in particular the availability and accessibility to health systems and nutritional attention to children. Infant mortality is a strong indicator of social development and of the availability, use and accessibility of health systems, especially among children, as well as of their nutritional status. It shows to what extent the most fundamental human right, that is, the right to life and the concomitant right to health (Jiménez and others, 2008), is being exercised in a society. Target 4.A also addresses the proportion of children aged from 12 to 23 months immunized against measles. Measles, a significant cause of infant death, can be easily avoided by administering a relatively cheap vaccine followed by a booster at a later stage, which offers lifelong protection (United Nations, 2009).