UN: Child mortality rate halved but global goal still unmet


The number of children under 5 who die of preventable causes has dropped by more than 50 per cent since 1990, but the goal set in 2000 to reduce the number by two-thirds has not been met, according to a UNICEF report released Wednesday.

The report found that while the lives of 48 million children have been saved in the last 15 years, only 24 of the world’s 81 poorest countries have cut the figure by two-thirds, as set out in the 2000 Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global benchmarks that were to be met by 2015.

Today, 5.9 million children under five die from preventable causes annually, down 53-per-cent drop from 1990 levels, according to the report.

The figure measuring the impact of the MDGs comes as world leaders are scheduled to adopt a new set of global targets this month for the next 15 years known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs call on countries to reduce their under-5 mortality rates to 25 deaths per 1,000 births by 2030, which could save 38 million children in that time.

“The data tell us that millions of children do not have to die – if we focus greater effort on reaching every child,” said Yoka Brandt, UNICEF’s deputy executive director.

The leading causes of preventable deaths are premature birth, pneumonia, complications during birth, diarrhoea and malaria. Solutions to these include access to medical care, breastfeeding, immunization, mosquito nets and clean drinking water.