15,000 child deaths daily despite drop in under-five mortality: UN report

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Baby born in Model SNCU Ward at the District Hospital in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, India. The hospital is trying to bring down neo-natal mortality in the region. Photo: © UNICEF India/UN076860/Ashutosh Sharma

Last year, 15,000 children under the age of five died each day, nearly half of whom were newborns.

The sombre statistics come in a UN report published on Thursday which says many of these deaths could have been prevented through simple, cost-effective measures.

It warns that despite a decrease in child mortality over the past 16 years, 7,000 infants still die every day.

Dianne Penn has the story.

If current trends continue, 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between now and 2030; half of them within the first month of life, according to the report.

And while overall under-five deaths have hit a new low since 2000, the proportion of newborn deaths has increased during this period: from 41 per cent to 46 per cent.

Most of those deaths occurred in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The report reveals that millions of under-fives globally are dying each year from infectious diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, while pre-term birth complications and complications during labour or childbirth were responsible for 30 per cent of newborn deaths last year.

It calls for measures such as improving access to skilled health professionals, as well as immunization, breastfeeding and inexpensive medicines.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 0’56″

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