SAD: Nigeria, India lead the world in global child deaths – UNICEF

Polio Immunization

Nigeria lags only behind India in countries that witnessed global under-five deaths in 2013, a new report has stated.

In its latest report, the United Nations body, UNICEF, revealed that half of the global deaths among children below the age of five occur in only five countries.

The countries are India (21 per cent), Nigeria (13 per cent), Pakistan (six per cent), Democratic Republic of Congo (five per cent), and China (four per cent).

In the report titled ‘Committing to child survival: A promise renewed,’ high-income countries only accounted for nearly two per cent of global under-five deaths in 2013. However, the report indicated that these countries accounted for only about 11 per cent of all births as well as 11 per cent of all children under age five in the world in 2013.

UNICEF, in the 2014 progress report, noted that Sub-Saharan Africa faces an additional challenge of extra efforts to decrease the child death rates needed to undo the projected increase in live births and population of children below the age of five.

“If current demographic trends continues, an estimated five billion children will be born worldwide between 2015 and 2050, 1.6 billion of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. By 2050, 37 per cent of the global under-five population will be living in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to just nine per cent in 1950,” UNICEF warned.

The report also states that the burden of child death is mainly among the world’s poorest regions and countries. For instance, all 12 countries with an under-five mortality rate of 100 or more deaths per 1,000 live births are in sub-Saharan Africa- a poor region. Ten of these are in West and Central Africa.

Also, one out of every 11 children born in sub-Saharan Africa dies before their fifth birthday. Compared to high-income countries, it is nearly 15 times the average rate (one in 159). Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia produced the greatest numbers of child deaths.

In 2013, about half of global under-five deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria leading while 32 per cent was in South Asia.

The report, however, noted that there were some improvements in health statistics globally. It indicated that while major efforts have been made towards improving child survival, the under-five death rates have declined by almost half since 1990.

It said that the child death rate dropped from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.

It further indicated that the total number of under-five deaths was cut by half during the same period from 12.7million to 6.3million, thus saving 17,000 lives every day.

Also, under-five death is falling faster than any other time during the past two decades. It is also falling among the poorest children in all regions.

However, despite the progress, the toll of under-five deaths in the past two decades (1990 to 2013) appears large; 223 million children worldwide have died before their fifth birthday.

By all indication, the progress made, the report states, is ‘insufficient’ to meet the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG) – to reduce child mortality by two-third by 2015.

It also noted that if current trends continue in all countries, the target will only be reached globally by 2026; 11 years behind schedule.


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