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A Child Survival Report Card: Number 1, 2004 View All Reports >

Going backwards: Under-5 mortality rate rose and the AARR was less than -.05%; and the required AARR until 2015 is greater than 9%.

Stagnating: Under-5 mortality is unchanged or has increased slightly and the AARR was between -0.5% and 0.0%; and the required AARR until 2015 is between 8.5% and 9.0%.

Falling short: Under-5 mortality has decreased and the AARR was between 0.1% and 1.2%; but the required AARR until 2015 is between 7.3% and 8.4%.

Advancing towards: The AARR was between 1.3% and 4.3%, the required AARR until 2015 is between 4.5% and 7.2%, and the country is more than 5 points off target.

On target: The AARR was between 1.3% and 4.3%, the required AARR until 2015 is between 4.5% and 7.2% and the country is within 5 points of target.

Forging ahead: The AARR was greater than 4.4%, the required AARR until 2015 is less than 4.4%, and the country will meet or surpass the target.

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

According to UNICEF projections, 53 developing countries will meet Millennium Developing Goal No. 4, which aims by 2015 to have reduced the under-five mortality rate of 1990 by two thirds.

Children are half as likely to die
before age five today as 40 years ago

At the start of the 1960s, nearly one in five children died before they were five years old. In 2002, the global under-five mortality rate had dropped to less than 1 in 12 a rate still unacceptably high as it represents an estimated 11 million preventable deaths each year.

But progress is uneven
A child's chance of survival differs sharply depending on where they are born. In 2002, 7 of every 1,000 children in industrialized countries died before they were five. At the other extreme, in sub-Saharan Africa, 174 of every 1,000 children died before celebrating their fifth birthday. In South Asia, 97 of 1,000 children died before they were five.

And a promise will be broken
In 2000, as part of the Millennium Development Goals, world governments pledged that by 2015 they will have reduced the 1990 under-five mortality rate by two thirds from 93 children of every 1,000 in 1990 dying before they were five to 31 of every 1,000 in 2015.

As the rate of progress lags
Setting MDG 4 assumed an average annual reduction rate (AARR) of 4.4 per cent in the under-five mortality rate each year between 1990 and 2015. Each year a country fell below the 4.4 rate called for greater reduction in the remaining years. When the target was set late in 2000, it was already evident that countries that had faltered in the 1990s would need to intensify their efforts at reducing child deaths between 2000 and 2015 in some cases doubling the AARR if they were to have a chance of meeting the goal.

The latest year for which firm estimates of under-five mortality are widely available is 2002. This is also the year that roughly marks the midpoint of the MDG target period, 1990-2015, so it is well suited to serve as a reference point for assessing progress.

It now seems likely that 90 countries, 53 of them developing nations, could reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015 if they maintain their current annual reduction rate. But 91 developing countries lag behind.

RegionU5MR 1990U5MR 2002Number of under-5 deaths (in millions) 2002MDG target 2015(a)Progress(b) 1990-2002U5MR estimate 2015Requirement 2002-2015
CEE/CIS and Baltic states 48 41 0.2 18 1.3 35 7.2
East Asia and Pacific 58 43 1.4 19 2.5 31 6.2
Latin America and Caribbean 54 34 0.4 27 3.9 21 4.9
Middle East and North Africa 81 58 0.6 27 2.8 40 5.9
South Asia 128 97 3.6 43 2.3 72 6.3
Sub-Saharan Africa 180 174 4.6 60 0.3 167 8.2
   • Eastern and Southern Africa 166 159 2.1 55 0.4 152 8.1
   • West and Central Africa 194 188 2.4 65 0.3 182 8.2
Industrialized Countries 10 7 0.1 3 3 5 5.8
Developing countries 103 90 10.8 34 1.1 78 7.4
Least developed countries 181 158 4.3 60 1.1 136 7.4
World 93 82 10.8 31 1.1 71 7.5

Countries whose AARR has matched or exceeded the implied MDG target in 1990-2002 are shown as shaded.


Millennium Development Goal 4 set each country the task of reducing the under-five child mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.


The speed of progress in reducing the U5MR is measured here by calculating the average annual reduction rate (AARR). Unlike the comparison of absolute changes, the AARR reflects the fact that the lower limits to U5MR are approached only with increasing difficulty. The AARR is calculated on an exponential basis, which assumes a continuous, exponential reduction between two points in time. It does not take into account the intermediate values of the series. To achieve a two-thirds reduction between 1990 and 2015 requires a progress rate of 4.4 per cent or higher.


The Child Survival PSA

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Unicef Progress for Children
Child Survival
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Asia
Middle East and North Africa
East Asia and Pacific
CEE/CIS and Baltic States
Latin America and the Caribbean
Industrialized Countries
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