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Global child mortality halved

Wednesday September 9th, 2015

Deaths of infants globally have halved in 25 years - but global targets are still being missed, according to figures published today.

Despite substantial efforts around the world to reduce child mortality, the Millennium Development Goal for 2015 has not been met, according to the United Nations.

Findings from a new study by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation indicate "substantial progress globally", but show that only 62 of 195 measurable countries have met the goal of cutting mortality among under-fives by two thirds from 1990 to 2015.

Dr Danzhen You and colleagues at UNICEF found that global under-five deaths fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015, a drop from 91 per 1,000 live births to 43. The problem is greatest in the region of West and Central Africa.

The overall global reduction was 53% - but the reduction target was 66%. The goal was met in the two regions East Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. By country, it was met in 62 countries including 24 low- and lower-middle income countries. Full details are published today (9 September) in The Lancet.

The reprt says the rate of morality reduction has accelerated in the last 25 years.

The authors write: "The unfinished business of child survival looms large. Every child's death represents the loss of a unique human being. Countries and the international community must take immediate action to further accelerate further the pace of progress to fulfil children's rights to health and development.

"Without intensified efforts to reduce child mortality, particularly in the highest mortality areas and in contexts with persistent inequities, the post-2015 SDG target will be unattainable. Child survival must remain at the heart of the SDG agenda."

A new Sustainable Development Goal target of 25 or fewer under-five deaths per 1,000 live births has been set for 2030.

Dr Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition and population at the World Bank, 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.”

You, D. et al. Global, regional, and national levels and trends in under-5 mortality between 1990 and 2015, with scenario-based projections to 2030: a systematic analysis by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. Lancet 9 September 2015 doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00120-8

Tags: Africa | Child Health | World Health

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