1. Home
  2. Global

10,000 fewer children dying daily

Niger has high infant mortality statistics but is making progress according to UNICEF, Sep 09

The number of children worldwide dying before age five dropped 28 percent between 1990 and 2008, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), or 10,000 fewer children are dying each day. UNICEF says while the trend is encouraging improvement is coming too slowly.

“This is good and bad news,” said UNICEF spokesperson in West Africa Gaelle Bausson. “Drops continue and the trend is on the right track, but the number of children dying is still unacceptable and in some regions the rate of progress is very slow."

Last year 8.8 million under-five children died versus 12.5 million in 1990. Africa and Asia combined account for 93 percent of all under-five deaths each year, says UNICEF. Three countries – Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Nigeria – account for 40 percent of the world’s under-five deaths.

The decline is not occurring quickly enough to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, UNICEF said in a 10 September communiqué.

However the figures relate to household surveys that in most cases were undertaken several years ago, and might not reflect a boost in efforts to reduce child mortality over recent years, Bausson said, adding: “Nor do they reflect the impact of the [rising food prices] or economic crisis.”

The biggest child killers globally are malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, according to UNICEF. Malaria has proven to be relatively easier to prevent, while pneumonia and diarrhea – prevention of which requires reforms to health care systems, improved water and sanitation infrastructure and behavioural changes – have proven harder to tackle, said Bausson.

UNICEF says measles vaccinations and Vitamin A supplements are cost-effective measures proven to keep infants alive. UNICEF’s Bausson told IRIN boosting child survival requires that national health systems be made more “child-friendly”.

“This means boosting these cost-effective programmes, supporting child and maternal health services, addressing children’s nutritional status and improving women’s health knowledge so they can recognize the signs of illness.”


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

We uncovered the sex abuse scandal that rocked the WHO, but there’s more to do

We just covered a report that says the World Health Organization failed to prevent and tackle widespread sexual abuse during the Ebola response in Congo.

Our investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation triggered this probe, demonstrating the impact our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone. 

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and do more of this. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.