Too many children still dying despite drop in mortality rates

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Reducing child mortality rates is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Photo: World Bank/Nahuel Berger

Child mortality rates have dropped by more than half in the past 25 years, but 16,000 children still die every day, according to a UN report released on Tuesday.

It says too many youngsters are still dying from preventable causes before they reach their fifth birthday.

Dianne Penn reports.

Child mortality rates have plunged from nearly 13 million in 1990 to 5.9 million this year—the first time they've fallen below the six million mark.

However, this falls wide of the two-thirds reduction target set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The report finds most of these deaths, roughly 45 per cent, are occurring before children celebrate even one month of life.

Prematurity and complications during labour and delivery, and diseases such as pneumonia and malaria, are among the main causes.

Many of these deaths are easily preventable.

Flavia Bustreo is with the World Health Organization, one of the agencies behind the report.

"So, it calls for increased attention by the policy makers, by the investors in health, and attention on that first moment of life—the birth, the first week of life, and the first month of life—where actually the health of the mother and the child really need to be addressed jointly."

The report recommends concentrating efforts in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, the regions with the highest child mortality rates.

A global strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescent's health will be launched later this month at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'22"

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