UN Report: Positive Shift as Record of Children’s Deaths Before Age Five Hits 4.9 Million

UN Report: Positive Shift as Record of Children's Deaths
Gift is being fed Plumpy'Nut by his father Yosa Augustino after being treated for malnutrition in Juba, South Sudan.

UN Report: Positive Shift as Record of Children’s Deaths Before Age Five Hits 4.9 Million

The number of children dying before their fifth birthday has reached a historic low, dropping to 4.9 million in 2022, according to the latest estimates from the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME). The global under-5 mortality rate has declined by 51% since 2000, showcasing substantial progress in child survival. Low- and lower-middle-income countries like Cambodia, Malawi, Mongolia, and Rwanda have achieved significant reductions in under-5 mortality, exceeding 75% since 2000.

Despite these positive trends, the report highlights the persistent challenge of preventable child and youth deaths. In addition to the 4.9 million lives lost before the age of 5, another 2.1 million children and youth aged 5-24 experienced premature mortality. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia bore the brunt of these deaths.

Preventable or treatable causes, such as preterm birth, birth-related complications, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, were responsible for the tragic loss of life. Access to high-quality primary health care, including low-cost interventions like vaccinations, skilled birth attendants, breastfeeding support, and treatment of childhood illnesses, could have saved many lives.

To further improve child health outcomes, investment in education, job opportunities, and decent working conditions for health workers is crucial. Community-based child survival interventions, including integrated management of childhood illnesses, can significantly reduce child mortality, particularly in high-risk countries.

The report emphasizes the need for better data and statistical systems, especially in regions with high mortality burdens like sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Improved tracking and monitoring of child survival and health through household surveys, Health Management Information Systems (HMIS), and Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) are essential to addressing existing gaps in data collection and analysis.

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