Under-five deaths down 40%

UNICEF reports that deaths of children under five (worldwide) have dropped 50% since 1990, with the estimated global toll falling from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

UNICEF hails rapid progress on child survival

Countries across the world are making rapid progress on child survival rates, showing it is possible to bring down child mortality significantly in two decades, the United Nations Children’s Fund said on Thursday.

In its latest report on child survival, UNICEF hailed a sharp drop of about 40 percent in the number of children under the age of five dying, with the estimated global toll falling from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

There was progress across diverse nations with varied wealth, UNICEF said, providing evidence that neither a country’s regional nor economic status was necessarily a barrier to being able to reduce child death rates.

Poor countries such as Bangladesh, Liberia and Rwanda, middle-income countries such as Brazil, Mongolia and Turkey, and high-income countries such as Oman and Portugal, all made what UNICEF described as dramatic gains, lowering their under-five death rates by more than two-thirds between 1990 and 2011.

The report found that child deaths are increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which together accounted for more than 80 percent of all under-five deaths in 2011. On average, one in every nine children in sub-Saharan Africa dies before reaching the age of five, it said.

Thats a very good trend, but there’s a lot more that can be done:

More than half the pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths – which together account for almost 30 percent of under-five deaths worldwide – occur in just four countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The report showed that 11 percent of child deaths – equating to 759,000 a year or 2,079 a day – are due to diarrhoeal diseases, of which 88 percent can be attributed to a lack of clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer disease of children, according to the World Health Organisation.

Latest data for 2010 shows that about one in three of the world’s population still lack access to safe sanitation and one in 10 do not have clean drinking water.

As a comparison:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa – 110 per 1,000
  • New Zealand – 6 per 1,000