Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
people and reproductive health
Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
Population Pressures <  
Food and Agriculture <  
Reproductive Health <  
Health and Pollution <  
Coasts and Oceans <  
Renewable Energy <  
Poverty and Trade <  
Climate Change <  
Green Industry <  
Eco Tourism <  
Biodiversity <  
Mountains <  
Forests <  
Water <  
Cities <  
Global Action <  

   overview | newsfile | books | films | links | factfile | features | glossary 
reproductive health > factfile > child mortality

Child mortality

Posted: 20 Jun 2004

More than 10 million children die each year in the developing world, the vast majority from causes preventable through a combination of good care, nutrition, and medical treatment. The World Health Organization has warned its members that they are losing the battle against child mortality and may fail to meet a target to reduce it by two-thirds by 2015.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s, global childhood deaths dropped from 210 per 1,000 live births to 78. But in low-income countries, one child in 11 dies before its fifth birthday, compared with 1 in 143 in high-income countries.

Child deaths have dropped rapidly in the past 25 years, but progress everywhere slowed in the 1990s, and a few countries have experienced increases in the same period.

Child mortality is closely linked to poverty. In 2001 the average under-five mortality rate was 121 deaths per 1,000 live births in low-income countries, 41 in lower-middle-income countries, and 27 in upper-middle-income countries. In high-income countries, the rate was less than 7.

  • A 2001 study published by Save the Children, State of the World's Newborns, of newborn babies in 163 countries reveals that 4 million newborn babies die each year, 98 per cent in developing countries. Most of them die as a result of poorly managed pregnancies and deliveries. Millions more women and babies suffer debilitating and life-long consequences of ill-health.

  • In the West African country of Mali, 60 newborn babies out of 1,000 die, compared with only five in 1,000 in the United States.

  • A report in Population Reports magazine on 120 Demographic and Health Surveys, in September 2003, found that only 30 out of 56 countries achieved the goals for infant survival set at the 1990 World Summit for Children (WSC). An average of 11 million children under the age of 5 died each year in developing countries during the 1990s. The failure to meet the WSC goals was attributed to reduced commitment to childhood immunization programmes, armed conflict and HIV/AIDS.

  • Infant and child survival rates improved by nearly 30 per cent in surveyed developing countries as a whole since 1990. But infant and child mortality increased in some sub-Saharan countries, particularly in those hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Few surveyed countries have met the goal set by WHO and UNICEF of immunizing at least 80 per cent of children against the common childhood diseases by 2000.

Millennium Development Goal 4: Child Mortality

© People & the Planet 2000 - 2007
Mother and baby, Mauritania. Photo: Jorgen Schytte/Still Pictures
picture gallery
printable version
email a friend
Latest factfile

For more details of how you can help, click here.

   overview | newsfile | books | films | links | factfile | features | glossary 
designed & powered by tincan ltd