A United Nations’ study says no fewer than 6.3 million children under the age of 15 died from mostly preventable causes in 2017.
The new report compiled by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Population Division and the World Bank, estimates that one child dies every five seconds.
According to the report covering all 183 UN member countries around 56 million children under-five would also die between 2018 and 2030 while newborn babies account for half of the deaths.
The study: ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation’, detailed estimates of mortality among children under age five and children aged five to 14.
According to Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Research Director, major progress in reducing child mortality has been made in the last quarter century, with the figures dropping by more than half since 1990.
He, however, pointed out that “millions are still dying because of who they are, and where they are born,” adding, “with simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child.”
The study revealed that children from Sub-Saharan African were disproportionately affected, with half of all deaths of under-fives taking place in the region.
It further revealed that most deaths of children aged five and below were due to preventable or treatable causes such as pneumonia, malaria or complications during birth.
Within countries, the study found that wide disparities exist with under-five mortality rates being about 50 per cent higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
Education was also said to be a factor, with those born to uneducated mothers more than twice as likely to die before turning five than those born to mothers with a secondary or higher education.
For older children, between the ages of five and 15, the study said “injuries become a more prominent cause of death, particularly road accidents and drowning.”
Reacting to the study, Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, called for investment in health of young people to prevent infant deaths.
“Ending preventable deaths and investing in the health of young people is a basic foundation for building countries’ human capital, which will drive their future growth and prosperity,” he said.