Young child survival and development

Child Survival


Fact sheet on Child Survival


The total number of annual deaths among children under-five has been falling steadily since 1990, the baseline year for the UN Millennium Development Goals. In 2008, the figure dropped to 8.8 million.  However, many countries still have high levels of child mortality, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and in recent years have made little or no progress in reducing the number of child deaths. 


  • Over 24,000 children under the age of five – about one every three seconds – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.
  • In 2008, 10,000 fewer children under age five died every day than in 1990.
  • The rate of decline in under-five mortality increased for the period 2000 to 2008 compared with the 1990s (the average annual rate of decline for 2000-2008 is 2.3% compared with 1.4% for 1990-2000).
  • The majority of child deaths are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. Among these, pneumonia and diarrhoea account for the highest child deaths, 17 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. 
  • These deaths occur mainly in the developing world.  A Nigerian child is more than 45 times more likely to die by his or her fifth birthday than a child in France.
  • In absolute numbers, half of deaths occur in just 5 countries.
  • Region with the highest under five mortality rates (2008): West & Central Africa, 169 per 1,000 live births.
  • Country with highest rate of under five child mortality (2008): Afghanistan, 257 per 1,000 live births. 
  • Country with highest number of under five deaths: India, 1.83 million under five deaths in 2008.
  • Infants (children aged <1 year) in developing countries are nearly 10 times more likely to die than newborns in industrialized countries.

Updated: 1/12/2010



For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection