Fast facts

Overall picture

  • In 2006, 5 million children died on the African continent before reaching their fifth birthday, an average of nearly 14,000 a day.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa reduced its under-five mortality rate by little more than one third during the 36-year period between 1970 and 2006. An annual average rate of reduction of more than 10 per cent over the next eight years is needed if the region is to meet Millennium Development Goal 4.

  • Sub-Saharan African countries accounted for nine of the 10 highest under-five mortality rates in the world. Sierra Leone was ranked highest, with 270 deaths per 1,000 live births. It is followed by Angola, where the under-five mortality rate in 2006 was the same as in 1990 (260 per 1,000 births).

  • Three countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria – account for more than 43 per cent of total under-five deaths in all of Africa.

  • Around 45 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population does not use improved drinking water sources. Of these, 54 million are children under five. More than 60 per cent remain without access to improved sanitation facilities.

Areas of progress

  • Since 1990, each of the five countries in North Africa – Algeria, Egypt, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco and Tunisia – has reduced its child mortality rate by at least 45 per cent, putting them well on track to meet Millennium Development Goal 4.

  • Under-five mortality has fallen by 40 per cent or more since 1990 in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique.

  • Measles deaths in Africa have decreased by over 90 per cent between 2000 and 2006.

  • The use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets among children under five in sub-Saharan Africa has at least tripled in 16 countries since 2000.

  • In Eastern and Southern Africa, access to HIV antiretroviral treatment for children under 15 increased to 17 per cent in 2006 – from 12 per cent in 2005.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, rates of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life rose from 22 per cent in 1996 to around 30 per cent in 2006. Benin, Ghana, Madagascar and Malawi raised their rates of exclusive breastfeeding above 50 per cent over the same period.