NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Eastern and southern Africa are reducing child mortality faster than any other regions in the world, the United Nations children’s fund (Unicef) said in a report on Friday, but more than 18,000 children die needlessly every day.
The report, 'Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed’, highlights the extent of child mortality globally and discusses what steps need to be taken to prevent babies and young children from dying.
Below are some facts and figures from the report:
- 216 million children died before the age of 5 between 1990 and 2012 – more than the total population of Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world.
- Half of all under-five deaths occur in just five countries: India (22 per cent), Nigeria (13 per cent), Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (both 6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).
- In sub-Saharan Africa, one in every 10 children dies before their fifth birthday, nearly 16 times the average rate in high-income countries.
- Globally, the leading causes of deaths among children under five include pneumonia (18 per cent), pre-term birth complications (15 per cent), birth-related complications (10 per cent), diarrhoea (9 per cent) and malaria (7 per cent).
- Immunisation is among the most successful and most cost-effective health interventions, saving two to three million lives globally every year.
- The 24 hours around the time of childbirth carry the greatest risk. Each year, more than 1 million babies die on the day they are born.
- If a mother is under 18, the risk of her infant dying in its first year of life is 60 percent greater than an infant born to a mother older than 19.
- To end preventable child deaths, women must be provided with good quality maternal care and nutrition and newborns need a safe delivery. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets, vaccines, proper breastfeeding, nutritional supplements, rehydration treatment for diarrhoea, safe water and sanitation are also important.
- In Rwanda, community health workers are using SMS to track pregnancies, report on danger signs during pregnancy and to send alerts to health services to ensure women can access emergency obstetric care quickly.