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Child Mortality Declining in Africa

south African mothers childrenThe United Nations has just published its annual statistics on child mortality around the world. The data reveals that the number of children dying every year has halved in a generation – down from 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012.

Patrick Watt, Global Campaigns and Advocacy director for Save the Children International, said, “Dramatic global progress is being made in saving children’s lives and we are now at an historic point where ending preventable child deaths lies within our grasp. This demonstrates that widespread efforts to improve access to life-saving healthcare for some of the world’s most vulnerable children are working. But these efforts need to be stepped up in order to prevent millions more children from dying.”

The new data reveals that this historic opportunity is at risk because two main challenges remain: the poorest children are being excluded and too many children are still not surviving the first month of life.

“Governments need to take urgent action to deliver health care and nutrition to every child if we are going to see sustainable progress in coming years, and give special attention to newborns and the most excluded. Every child has the right to survive, no matter where they are born. Donor countries and international organizations should also make sure no child dies for lack of resources,” said Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children.

The Largest Decline

Seven high-mortality, low-income countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Timor Leste and United Republic of Tanzania) have already reduced their mortality rates of children under 5 years old by two-thirds or more since 1990. Impressive results have also been seen in a number of other low-income countries: Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Niger, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Uganda.

According to the UNICEF data, Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa are the only regions that have experienced a consistent acceleration in the pace of reducing the deaths of children under 5-years-old since 1990. Since 2005, sub-Saharan Africa has been reducing its rate of child mortality more than five times faster than during 1990-1995.

Sub-Saharan Africa has registered a 45 per cent decline in the child mortality rate from 1990 to 2012. The region faces a unique and urgent challenge in accelerating progress. By mid-century it will be the region with the single biggest population of under-fives, accounting for 37 per cent of the global total and close to 40 per cent of all live births. And it is the region with least progress on under-five mortality to date.


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