Millennium Development Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Target: Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
If current rates of progress (those between 1990 and 2005) are steadily maintained, average world child mortality rates would dip below 10 per 1,000 live births in 60 years or so, around 2065. At this point, the whole world would enjoy child mortality rates almost as low as those currently experienced by industrialized countries – whose average rate is presently 6 per 1,000 live births, compared with 87 in the developing world and 155 in the least developed countries. But the soaring child mortality rates in southern Africa since 1990 as a result of HIV/AIDS – impossible to have foreseen or even imagined in 1980 – demonstrate that the reduction of child mortality is unlikely to take so straight a path.
Even if it were possible to draw a straight line into a future relatively free from preventable and unnecessary child deaths, to do so would be a betrayal of the children now in the world and those to be born in the coming decades.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals, the world set itself a target of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds of its 1990 levels, bringing it down to 35 per 1,000 live births by 2015.
The current rate of progress on child mortality is unacceptably slow and would not see that target met until 2045. More pointedly and more meaningfully, if the goal to reduce child mortality is met, millions of lives that would otherwise be lost will be saved.
Source: UNICEF, 1946–2006 Sixty Years for Children, New York, November 2006.