Child mortality rate drops by a third since 1990
NEW YORK: The latest United Nations under-five mortality estimates were released today by UNICEF and they show continued progress in reducing the number of children who don’t live to see their fifth birthdays.
According to these estimates, the total number of under-five deaths decreased globally from 1990 to 2009 from 12.4 million per year to 8.1 million. The global under-five mortality rate has dropped by a third over that period, from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births to 60 in 2009.
The good news is that these estimates suggest 12,000 fewer children are dying each day around the world compared to 1990.
However the tragedy of preventable child deaths continues. Some 22,000 children under five still die each day, with some 70 per cent of these deaths occurring in the first year of the child’s life.
Under-five mortality is increasingly concentrated in a few countries. About half of global under-five deaths occurred in just five countries in 2009: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China.
The highest rates of child mortality continue to be found in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 8 children dies before their fifth birthday–nearly 20 times the average for developed regions (1 in 167). Southern Asia has the second highest rates, with about 1 in 14 children dying before age five.
While the speed at which under-five mortality rates are declining improved for 2000 to 2009 compared to the previous decade, the under five deaths are still not decreasing fast enough –especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania–to achieve Millennium Development Goal target (of a two thirds decline between 1990 and 2015).
The new estimates were published in the 2010 report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, issued by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), and in a special commentary in The Lancet.
The estimates are the work of a number of UN system organizations that form the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, and are developed with oversight and advice from independent experts from academic institutions.