A report on child mortality by the U.N. Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation reports that an estimated 6.3 million children aged younger than 15 years died in 2017, or the equivalent of one child every 5 seconds.
Most of the deaths are from preventable causes, according to estimates released by UNICEF, WHO, the U.N. Population Division and the World Bank Group. The report by the organizations notes that more than 80% of all the deaths, or 5.4 million, occur in children in their first 5 years of life.
“Without urgent action, 56 million children under 5 will die from now until 2030 — half of them newborns,” Laurence Chandy, UNICEF director of data, research and policy, said in an accompanying press release. “We have made remarkable progress to save children since 1990, but millions are still dying because of who they are and where they are born. With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child.”
The report noted that in the past 2 decades, “substantial progress’ has been made in reducing mortality among children and young adolescents aged 14 years and younger. Children in the first month of life had the highest risk of dying, with an average rate of 18 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. This compares with an average rate of seven per 1,000 for children aged younger than 15 years.
According to a report issued by the U.N. Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, one child dies every 5 seconds. Children aged younger than 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa have the highest reported mortality rate.
Children aged 1 to 4 years had the largest improvements in survival among those aged younger than 5 years, with a decline in mortality of 60% between 2000 and 2017, compared with a 41% decline in mortality for children aged younger than 1 month and a 51% decline in children aged 1 to 11 months.
The organizations reported that the number of deaths in children aged younger than 5 years fell from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017.
“This new report highlights the remarkable progress since 1990 in reducing mortality among children and young adolescents,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said in the release.
Children’s chances of survival were affected by regional and income disparities, with sub-Saharan Africa having the highest mortality rate among children aged younger than 5 years, with an average rate of 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. This translates to one in 13 children dying before his or her fifth birthday. The rate is 20 times higher than that of Australia and New Zealand, which have the lowest regional under-5 mortality rate — one in 263 children aged younger than 5 years, the authors wrote.
“Millions of babies and children should not be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services,” Princes Nono Simelela, assistant director-general for family, women and children’s health at WHO, said in the release. “We must prioritize providing universal access to quality health services to every child, particularly around the time of birth and through the early years to give them the best possible chance to survive and thrive.” – by Bruce Thiel
The UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. Levels & Trends in Child Mortality Report 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.