A UN report said here Thursday that the pace of childhood death has declined sharply in recent decades, with an estimated 6.9 million children dying before their fifth birthday in 2011, compared to around 12 million in 1990, but greater gains must be made to meet international goals to save infants and young children.
"Proven solutions need to be expanded to accelerate progress on child survival faster and farther," according to the latest annual report of the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN-IGME). The report was released here Thursday.
Formed in 2004, the UN-IGME is made up of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the UN Department of Development and Social Affairs ( DESA) and the World Bank. Its activities include sharing data on child mortality and improving methods for child mortality estimation reporting on progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight goals agreed upon by world leaders in 2000 to slash extreme poverty and other global ills.
The UN-IGME said that gains in child survival, although significant, are still insufficient to achieve the fourth MDG, which calls for reducing the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
Only six of the world's 10 regions are on track to reach the target. Worldwide, an estimated 19,000 children still died every day in 2011, with around 40 percent in the first month of life and most from preventable causes.
The report called for systematic action to reduce neonatal mortality. "Highly cost-effective interventions are feasible even at the community level," said UN-IGME, which advocates expanding preventative and curative interventions that target the main causes of infant mortality.
Globally, the leading causes of death among children under five are pneumonia, pre-term birth complications, diarrhea, complications during birth and malaria, the report noted.
Reporting on progress, the report says that rates of child mortality have fallen in all regions of the world in the last two decades -- down by at least 50 percent in Eastern Asia, Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-eastern Asia and Western Asia.
Between 2000 and 2011, the annual rate of reduction in the global under-five mortality rate jumped to 3.2 percent, up from 1. 8 percent in 1990-2000. Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the greatest challenge in child survival, has doubled its rate of reduction, from 1.5 percent per year in the years 1990-2010, to 3. 1 percent in the period from 2000-2011, it said.
However, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia still account for more than 80 percent of global under-five deaths. Their disparity with other regions is becoming more marked as regions such as Eastern Asia and Northern Africa have cut child deaths by more than two thirds since 1990, said the report.
Half of all under-five deaths occurred in five countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China, according to the report, which also finds that India and Nigeria account for more than a third of all under-five deaths worldwide.