The fourth of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approved by the United Nations (in cooperation with the World Bank) back in 2000 was to reduce child mortality to only 1/3 of the 1990 level as of 2015. The good news is that a report out yesterday published in The Lancet confirms that the global rate of child mortality has declined. The sobering news is that the MDG goal has not yet been met, as BBCNews reports:
Child mortality has fallen by more than 50% since 1990, a report by the World Health Organization and UN children's agency Unicef says.To put the decline into perspective, the report estimates that in 1990, when the world's population was 5.3 billion, there were 12.7 million children under age 5 dying during the year. By this year, with a world population of 7.3 billion, "only" 5.9 million children are expected to die. The lowest rates of child mortality tend to be in northwestern Europe and Scandinavia, while the highest rates are in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the single biggest contributor to child deaths is India, which accounts for one out of every five child deaths in the world [Note: country level data are available in the online UN version of the report]. A recent report from India, reported by CNN, indicates that "[B]esides neonatal health conditions, widespread illiteracy, poverty, poor sanitation and nutrition have also been identified as contributors to high rates of child mortality in the world's second most populous nation." In the meantime, the world's most populous nation, China, has reduced its child mortality rate to only 1/5 what is was in 1990. This has certainly been aided by the low fertility in the country.
It says that 25 years ago 12.7 million children under five died, but this year the figure is projected to drop below six million for the first time.
But aid agencies warn that huge challenges remain.
They point out that the UN target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 will not be met.