Annual Number Of Child Deaths Worldwide Fell More Than 40% Between 1990-2011, U.N. Reports

The annual number of child deaths worldwide has fallen more than 40 percent since 1990, “the result of myriad improvements in nutrition, access to vaccines and antibiotics, cleaner deliveries, better care of infants immediately after birth, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets,” according to “the findings of a report released Wednesday by three United Nations agencies and the World Bank,” the Washington Post reports (Brown, 9/12). “In 1990, there were 12 million deaths of young children, but the latest figures … show that deaths had fallen by nearly half, to 6.9 million, by 2011,” the Guardian writes (Boseley, 9/12). “[T]he number of deaths is down by at least 50 percent in eastern, western and southeastern Asia, as well as in northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” the report says, VOA News notes (Schlein, 9/12). However, “[i]n some, mainly sub-Saharan countries, the total number of deaths of children younger than five increased,” BBC News writes, adding, “The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso saw annual deaths of children under five rise by 10,000 or more in 2011 as compared with 1990” (Doyle, 9/13).

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “said the progress was extraordinary, but a child dying anywhere in the world is a tragic loss and undermines peace and stability,” United Press International writes (9/13). “‘[A]ny satisfaction at these gains is tempered by the unfinished business that remains,’ said UNICEF’s executive director, Anthony Lake,” according to Agence France-Presse, which adds, “Some 19,000 children are still dying each day from largely preventable diseases” (Viollaz, 9/12). “Those killers include pneumonia, which contributes to 18 percent of deaths of children under five, and diarrhea, which is responsible for 11 percent,” according to a UNICEF press release (Niles/Obstler, 9/12). “More than half the pneumonia and diarrhea deaths … occur in just four countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan,” Reuters notes (Kelland, 9/12). “These lives could be saved with vaccines, adequate nutrition, and basic medical and maternal care,” Lake said, the UNICEF press release states (9/12).

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