Latest Update

Child Deaths Reach Alarming Rate: UN Report

Five million children died before their fifth birthday and another 2.1 million children and young people between the ages of 5 and 24 lost their lives in 2021, according to the latest calculations published by the United Nations Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME).

In a separate report also published today, the group revealed that 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period. Many of these tragic deaths could have been prevented if mothers, newborns, adolescents and children had equitable access to high-quality healthcare.

“Every day too many mothers and fathers are dealing with the trauma of losing their children, sometimes before they even take their first breath,” said Vidhya Ganesh, Director of UNICEF’s Division of Data, Analysis, Planning and Monitoring. “A tragedy so widespread and preventable should never be accepted as inevitable. Progress is possible through stronger political will and targeted investment in equitable access to primary health care for all women and all children.”

The reports nevertheless show some positive results, since since the year 2000 the risk of mortality has decreased in all ages on a global scale. The under-five mortality rate has been reduced by 50% worldwide since the turn of the century, while the mortality rates of older children and young people have decreased by 36%, and the stillbirth rate was reduced by 35%. This can be attributed to increased investments in strengthening primary health systems for the benefit of women, children and youth.

However, progress has slowed significantly since 2010, and 54 countries will miss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target for under-five mortality. If swift action is not taken to improve health services, nearly 59 million children and young people will die before 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will be stillborn, agencies warn.

“It is grossly unfair that a child’s chances of survival can depend solely on where they were born, and that there are such stark inequalities in access to life-saving health services,” said Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging from the World Health Organization (WHO). “Children around the world need strong primary health care systems that meet their needs and those of their families, so they have the best start in life and hope for the future, regardless of where they are born.”

Chances of Survival of Children

According to reports, the chances of survival of children continue to differ greatly depending on where they are born, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia being the regions with the highest mortality rates.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, mortality in children under five years of age fell by 50% between 2000 and 2020, and mortality rates in older children and youth fell by 18%.

However, there are still significant disparities in mortality rates between and within the countries of the Americas: In Cuba and Uruguay, for example, the under-five mortality rate is between 5 and 6 deaths per 1,000 births. live, respectively, while in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the rate is 34 and 60 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively.

Reason of Deaths

Many of these deaths are due to congenital malformations and complications from being born prematurely. As they grow older, violence, road injuries and suicide are some of the leading causes of death. Most child deaths are preventable. The expansion of primary care, the strengthening of health systems, and the harmonization of strategies and financing among sectors and stakeholders are essential to reduce infant mortality in the Region.

Access to and availability of quality health care remain matters of life and death for children around the world. Most infant deaths occur in the first five years, and half of them in the first month of life. For the smallest babies, premature birth and complications during delivery are the leading causes of mortality. Similarly, more than 40% of stillbirths occur during childbirth, although most could be prevented if women had access to quality care during pregnancy and childbirth. For children who survive beyond their first 28 days, infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria pose the greatest threat.

Although COVID-19 has not been a direct factor in the increase in child mortality, as children are less likely to die from the disease than adults, the pandemic could have exacerbated a number of future risks to their survival. In particular, the two reports highlight concerns about disruptions to vaccination campaigns, nutrition services, and access to primary health care, which could jeopardize their health and well-being for many years to come. In addition, the pandemic has caused the largest prolonged rollback in vaccination in three decades, a situation that puts the most vulnerable newborns and children at greater risk of dying from preventable diseases.

The reports also point to data gaps that could seriously undermine the impact of policies and programs designed to improve child survival and well-being.

This article is originally published on

Related Articles

Back to top button