Child mortality drops by 53.5% since 1990, says report

CHILD mortality rate• ‘16,000 children under-five years old die daily’ • Prematurity, pneumonia, birth complications top causes of death
THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank Group and the Population Division of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in a report released yesterday said under-five deaths have dropped from 12.7 million per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015.

The report, which said global child mortality rates have dropped by 53.5 per cent in 25 years, also identified prematurity, pneumonia, complications during labour and delivery, diarrhoea, sepsis and malaria as leading causes of death for children under five years old, saying that nearly half of all under-five deaths are associated with under-nutrition.

The new child mortality report 2015 released by the United Nations (UN) organs indicated that although the global progress had been substantial, 16,000 under-five children still die every day, noting that the 53.5 per cent drop in under-five mortality is not enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of a two-thirds reduction between 1990 and 2015.

According to the report, despite low incomes, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania have all met the MDGs target but sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, however, continues to confront the immense challenge of a burgeoning under-five population – projected to increase by almost 30 per cent in the next 15 years – coupled with persistent poverty in many countries.

The report highlights that a child’s chance of survival is still vastly different based on where he or she is born. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world with one child in 12 dying before his or her fifth birthday – more than 12 times higher than the one in 147 average in high-income countries. In 2000 to 2015, the region has overall accelerated its annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality to about two and a half times what it was in 1990-2000.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Geeta Rao Gupta, said: “We have to acknowledge tremendous global progress, especially since 2000 when many countries have tripled the rate of reduction of under-five mortality.

Besides, Assistant Director-General at WHO, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, said: “We know how to prevent unnecessary newborn mortality. Quality care around the time of childbirth, including simple affordable steps like ensuring early skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding and extra care for small and sick babies can save thousands of lives every year.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Wu Hongbo, said: “This new report confirms a key finding of the 2015 Revision of the World Population Prospects on the remarkable decline in child mortality globally during the 15-year MDG era.

“Rapid improvements since 2000 have saved the lives of millions of children. However, this progress will need to continue and even accelerate further, especially in high-mortality countries of sub-Saharan Africa if we are to reach the proposed child survival target of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.”

Also, Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group, Dr. Tim Evans, said: “Many countries have made extraordinary progress in cutting their child mortality rates. However, we still have much to do before 2030 to ensure that all women and children have access to the care they need.”

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