Today a collaborative report on trends in child mortality was released by the World Bank, UNICEF, the United Nations and the World Health Organization. According to the Levels and Trends in Child Mortality report, child mortality has dropped by 49 percent since 1990. Even so, Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) has yet to be reached. In fact, if current trends persist only Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Asia will achieve MSG 4. MDG 4 calls for a global reduction in child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Substantial global progress has been made to effectively reduce child mortality rates, but the progress hasn’t been fast enough even though the rate is falling faster than any time during the past two decades the report said.
While child survival rates are improving, the world still lost 190 million children under the age of five since 1990. Every region of the world has reduced its under-five child mortality rate by 52 percent except for Oceana and sub-Saharan Africa. And, the vast majority of child deaths occur in five primary countries – India (21 percent), Nigeria (13 percent), Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and China.
Today 17,000 children under the age of five will die. Newborns make up 44 percent of the total deaths. The first day and week of a newborn’s life is most critical. One million newborns died within the first week in 2013 according to the report. Most of these children will die in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for all 12 countries that have a child mortality rate of 100 or more per 1,000 live births. While sub-Saharan Africa reduced its child mortality rate by 48 percent, that rate was lower than anywhere else in the world. The three largest killers of children under the age of five still remain diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria.
“The data clearly demonstrate that an infant’s chances of survival increase dramatically when their mother has sustained access to quality health care during pregnancy and delivery,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “We need to make sure that these services, where they exist, are fully utilised and that every contact between a mother and her health worker really counts. Special efforts must also be made to ensure that the most vulnerable are reached.”
Read the report: Levels and Trends in Child Mortality
Graph from report.