Where U5MR rose
A large number of countries have seen mortality rates increase since 1990. While most of these countries are located in sub-Saharan Africa, also featured are Iraq and former members of the Soviet Union.
Where U5MR stagnated
Only slightly less disturbing is the group of countries that have failed to register any improvement in under-five mortality in the first half of the MDG period. These countries almost all come from the same regions: sub-Saharan Africa and CEE/CIS and the Baltic States. The exception is Jamaica.
Where efforts must double
In those countries where the under-five mortality rate either rose or stagnated, efforts will have to be doubled, particularly those countries that have experienced a rise in child mortality rates since 1990. In some extreme cases, Botswana, Iraq and Zimbabwe, for example, efforts will need to almost triple.
Causes of young deaths
Knowing why so many children die before they are five is important for targeting interventions that will save their lives and also for monitoring progress towards MDG 4.
Poor neonatal conditions are, according to WHO, the single most prominent cause of young deaths, followed by infectious and parasitic diseases, particularly in developing countries. Acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea together are at the root of approximately one third of child deaths.
Significant progress has been made in reducing measles deaths and the goal of decreasing them by half by 2005 is likely to be met. However, measles still accounts for around 5 per cent of child deaths.
With HIV/AIDS on the rise, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of children orphaned by the epidemic – most visibly in sub-Saharan Africa – and only modest inroads achieved in countering malaria, which accounts for more child deaths than HIV/AIDS, the threats facing young children’s chances of survival are as grave as ever.
Malnutrition is a major issue affecting many children; it contributes to more than half of all child deaths worldwide.