UNICEF Releases New Child Survival Estimates

September 22, 2014
by Crickett Nicovich, Senior Policy Associate

Last week UNICEF released their annual “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Progress Report 2014” and announced that we have halved the number of preventable child deaths from 12.7 million children (under the age of five) a year in 1990 to 6.3 million children in 2013.

This is definitely a moment to celebrate! Huge strides have been made in child survival since the World Summit for Children in 1990 when global leaders came together to commit to accelerating child survival efforts. Ramping up efforts to fight some of the leading killers of kids, such as campaigns to increase vaccine coverage for measles and prevent and treat malaria, have dramatically reduced child deaths.

The commitment to end preventable child deaths by the year 2035 was renewed in June 2012, during the global launch of the Child Survival Call to Action. Since then, nearly 180 governments have pledged to scale up efforts to accelerate declines in preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

However, despite these successes UNICEF’s report highlights that over 17,000 children under the age of five die each day of mainly preventable and treatable causes. They report, “The toll of under-five deaths over the past two decades is staggering: between 1990 and 2013, 223 million children worldwide died before their fifth birthday.” The hardest hit areas are still Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These regions together now account for 4 out of 5 under-five deaths globally.

And, while deaths from infectious diseases have seen great declines, the report also emphasizes that diarrhea and pneumonia still account for a quarter of all under-five deaths.

In order to meet the goal of ending preventable child deaths in a generation, more must be done. RESULTS’ fall campaign on fully funding Gavi is working to do just that. 

Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance enables poor countries to access new and underutilized vaccines – including the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines which prevent pneumonia and forms of deadly diarrhea. Where a child is born should not determine whether or not she lives. Since 2000, Gavi has immunized almost half a billion children which will save over 6 million lives from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Gavi recently laid out its next five year strategy to immunize 300 million children by 2020 which will save over 5 million  more lives. Saving more lives will mean more to celebrate. 

Read more about the latest child survival estimates from UNICEF.

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