UNICEF Reports that Under-Five Child Mortality Reaches New Low


October 19th, 2017
Crickett Nicovich, Senior Advisor for Global Policy and Government Affairs

Globally, the number of under-five child deaths per year has reached a new low. UNICEF Child Mortality Report 2017 was released this week and it again shows the incredible gains that have been made in child survival over the past couple of decades.

Some highlights and new statistics from the UNICEF report:

  • Since 1990, we’ve seen substantial progress in driving down the leading killers of kids under the age of five, but there are still far too many children not reaching their fifth birthdays.
    • The under-five mortality rate dropped from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 41 in 2016.
    • 5.6 million children a year are still not reaching the age of 5, or over 15,000 children a day die of mainly preventable and treatable causes.
  • The first 28 days of life – the neonatal period – are the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. While under-five child mortality has reached a new low, newborn deaths account for a growing portion of the under-five deaths.
    • 2.6 million newborns still die every year – that’s children not surviving their first 28 days of life.
    • Almost half of the under-five deaths are now newborn deaths (46 % of the total).
  • The burden of under-five deaths remains unevenly distributed geographically and has a disproportionate effect on the poorest within countries.
    • About 80 percent of under-five deaths occur in two regions, sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
    • India and Nigeria alone account for almost 1/3 of the global under-five deaths.
    • The burden of under-five deaths is also disproportionally concentrated among poorer households, with the two poorest quintiles accounting for about half of the under-five deaths but only for 40 percent of the births.
  • Accelerated progress is needed to end preventable child and maternal deaths by 2030.
    • Fifty-two countries are still not on track to end preventable child and maternal deaths by 2030.
    • If current trends continue, more than three quarters of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa will miss the under-five mortality target. Thirteen countries in the region will not reach the target until after 2050.

It is clear that acceleration to end preventable child and maternal deaths will require maintained political will, innovation, and a focus on equity and impact. RESULTS’ advocacy to build political momentum for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act in the House (H.R. 4022) and Senate (S. 1730) is incredibly important to ensure the U.S. prioritizes ending preventable child and maternal deaths in a generation.

Where you are born should not determine whether you live. You can take action today with RESULTS to ask your member of Congress to support the Reach Act.

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