Countries across the world are continuing to make rapid progress in reducing child deaths, a UNICEF report said this week.
According to the 2012 UN report, trends in child mortality since 1990 include major reductions in all regions of the world for children under five. This has translated into a sharp drop in total deaths from nearly 12 million in 1990 to an estimated 6.9 million in 2011. Last year alone, the total number of global deaths of small children dropped by 700,000.
The report underscores that neither a country’s regional affiliation nor economic status need be a barrier to reducing child deaths. Even low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Liberia and Rwanda have made dramatic gains, lowering their under-five mortality rates by more than two-thirds between 1990 and 2011.
Under the banner of A Promise Renewed, a movement is growing to build on two decades of significant progress. The opportunity for further sharp reductions in preventable child deaths has never been greater.
Since June, more than half the world’s governments have signed up and renewed their commitment to child survival, focusing on areas where the challenge for child survival is the greatest, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Greater efforts are particularly required in populous countries with high mortality. In addition to medical and nutritional factors, improvements in other areas – notably education, access to clean water and adequate sanitation, adequate food, child protection and women’s empowerment – will also improve prospects for child survival and development.