Heather Katsoulis A new report issued by international health organizations indicates the rates of child mortality have dropped to less than 50 percent from 1990 records. However, the two-thirds reduction in mortality rates hoped for between 1990 and 2015, the Millennium Development Goal, has still not been met. 

The World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the population division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the World Bank Group report shows that while the rates of child mortality have dropped to less than 50 percent from 1990 levels, the two-thirds reduction hasn't yet been achieved.

The annual rate of deaths among children aged five years old and below declined from 12.7 million in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. Nonetheless, about 16,000 children in the said age bracket still die daily.  

The massive improvements that have occurred all over the world should be recognized, particularly because starting in 2000, many nations have exhibited triple reduction of mortality rates among children aged five years and below, said Geeta Rao Gupta, the deputy executive director of UNICEF.

"But the far too large number of children still dying from preventable causes before their fifth birthday – and indeed within their first month of life – should impel us to redouble our efforts to do what we know needs to be done. We cannot continue to fail them," Gupta said.

The report entitled "Levels and trends in child mortality report 2015" shows that the biggest problem still occurs shortly after birth, with 45 percent of under-five deaths noted during the neonatal stage. Among the other highly common causes of deaths in children under five include pneumonia, diarrhea, prematurity, malaria, sepsis and complications during labor and delivery. Undernutrition is a very significant cause of death as about 50 percent of deaths among these children are due to it. According to the report, majority of child mortality causes may be prevented through evidenced-based and accessible measures.

Among the other findings stated in the report are that 62 nations, or one-third of the world's countries, have met the MDG by two-thirds and 74 countries have decreased the mortality rates by at least 50 percent. The reduction of child mortality rates has increased with 1.8 percent between 1990 and 2000 to 3.9 percent between 2000 and 2015. Africa has shown tremendous progress as 10 out of 12 low-income nations that were able to reduce child deaths were in that region.

Many nations have exhibited excellent improvement in reducing their under-five death rates. But authorities must do more before 2030 to guarantee accessible care to all women and children, said Tim Evans, the World Bank Group's senior director of health, nutrition and population.

The Millennium Development Goal for reduced child mortality was one of eight international development goals (MDGs) that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 and also included such goals as halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria and providing universal primary education.

Photo: Heather Katsoulis | Flickr

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