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Child under 15 dies every 5 seconds

Tuesday September 18th, 2018

A child under 15 years dies every five seconds around the world, a UN interagency group report reveals today (18 September 2018).

New mortality estimates by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group, show that 6.3 million children under 15 died in 2017. Of those, 5.4 million were aged five or under.

Children from the highest mortality countries are up to 60 times more likely to die in the first five years of life than those from the lowest mortality countries.

Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths under five years of age happened in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 30% in Southern Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 13 children died before their fifth birthday – compared with one in 185 in high-income countries.

Most children under the age of five years die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal sepsis and malaria.

Older children, between the ages of five and 14 years, death from drowning and road traffic become more prominent.

In 2017, 2.5 million new-borns died in their first month and a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than a baby born in a high-income country.

Under-five mortality rates among children in rural areas are, on average, 50% higher than among children in urban areas, while those born to uneducated mothers are more than twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday than those born to mothers with a secondary or higher education.

Dr Princess Nono Simelela, assistant director-general for Family, Women and Children’s Health at WHO, said: “Millions of babies and children should not still be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services.

“We must prioritise providing universal access to quality health services for every child, particularly around the time of birth and through the early years, to give them the best possible chance to survive and thrive.”

The report also shows that fewer children worldwide are dying each year. Under-fives mortality fell from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017, while deaths in children aged between five and 14 years dropped from 1.7 million to under a million over the same 20-year period.

Liu Zhenmin, UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, said: “This new report highlights the remarkable progress since 1990 in reducing mortality among children and young adolescents.

“Reducing inequality by assisting the most vulnerable new-borns, children and mothers is essential for achieving the target of the Sustainable Development Goals on ending preventable childhood deaths and for ensuring that no one is left behind.”

* In the UK schoolchildren are being exposed to dangerous air pollution at school because of the large number of vehicles gathering outside school gates, UNICEF said today.

Its analysis found that children get 60% of their daily air pollution from going to school.

Tags: Africa | Asia | Child Health | World Health

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