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Global child mortality rates have halved since 1990 - but that’s not enough to meet the MDG target

Emi Suzuki's picture
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New estimates of child mortality were released today by the UN Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), and show the global child (under-five) mortality rate has dropped 47 percent since 1990 - from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 48 in 2012. This decline represents substantial progress, but the rate of decline remains insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) of a two-thirds reduction in 1990 levels by 2015.

But a closer look at the data show that just looking at the average trend hides the accelerated decline in rates in recent years. The average decline in rates was just 1.2 percent per year between 1990 and 1995, but between 2005 and 2012 there has been average annual reduction in child mortality rates of 3.9 percent. This recent progress is close to the average rate needed to be “on track” to meet MDG 4, since under-five mortality rates needs to be going down by at least 4 percent annually. 

The highest child mortality rates are in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa