The number of children who don’t live to see their fifth birthdays continued to fall by a third since 1990, the United Nations said in the latest under-five mortality estimates on Friday.
A children who die before reaching their fifth birthday is called under-five mortality.
"About half of global under-five deaths in 2009 occurred only in India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China. India, with 21 percent, and Nigeria, with 10 percent, together account for nearly a third of under-five deaths worldwide" said the report.
According to these estimates, which is published in the 2010 report Levels and Trends in Child Mortality, issued by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), and in a special commentary in The Lancet,
the total number of under-five deaths decreased globally from 1990 to 2009 from 12.4 million per year to 8.1 million.
"The global under-five mortality rate has dropped by a third over that period, from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births to 60 in 2009," showed the report.
The good news is that these estimates suggest 12,000 fewer children are dying each day around the world compared to 1990, UNICEF said in a statement.
However, the tragedy of preventable child deaths continues. Some 22,000 children under five still die each day, with some 70 percent of these deaths occurring in the first year of the child’s life.
The highest rates of child mortality continue to be found in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 8 children dies before their fifth birthday--nearly 20 times the average for developed regions (1 in 167).
Southern Asia has the second highest rates, with about 1 in 14 children dying before age five.
While the speed at which under-five mortality rates are declining improved for 2000 to 2009 compared to the previous decade, the under five deaths are still not decreasing fast enough --especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania--to achieve Millennium Development Goal target (of a two thirds decline between 1990 and 2015).
The Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) calls for reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
As global momentum and investment for accelerating child survival grow, monitoring progress at the global and country levels has become even more critical.
In 2004 the United Nations established the IGME to advance the work on monitoring progress towards MDG 4 and to enhance country capacity to produce timely and properly assessed estimates of child mortality.
The most recent IGME estimates show that nearly 8.1 million children under age five died in 2009—or more than 22,000 children a day.
A 40 percent of under-five deaths occur within the first month of life, and some 70 percent occur within the first year of life.
The two biggest killers of children under age five are pneumonia (18 percent of deaths) and diarrhoeal diseases (15 percent).
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda will address a global summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York next week to call for concerted action to achieve all the goals.
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