Child mortality down by 30 percent from 1990 levels: Report

May 25th, 2010 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Moving closer towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for reducing child mortality, a decline of close to 30 percent has been recorded in deaths below the age of five worldwide, according to a new report.
A report from Lancet, an international journal on health, says child mortality has come down by over 4.2 million from the 1990 levels.

“Between 1990 and 2000, 31 percent of the countries had rates of decline that were above the MDG target rate of 4.4 percent per year. This proportion increased to 34 percent countries in 2000-10,” the report says.

Reducing child mortality by average rate of 4.4 percent was 4th of eight MDGs set by world leaders in 2000 to ensure better standards of life.

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development are the other goals set as MDGs.

The report says 11.9 million children under the age of five died in 1990 while in 2009, this number was 7.7 million registering almost a one third decrease.

Child mortality in developing countries has declined by 35 percent from 1990 at an yearly rate of 2.1 percent. While the average rate remains much below the MDG target of 4.4 percent per annum, substantial progress has been registered with no country having child mortality above 200 per thousand. As many as 12 countries had child mortality above this level in 1990.

Among the developing countries, fastest decline has been registered in Latin American countries, North Africa and Middle East while slowest progress has been registered in the region of sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

“The fastest rates of decline have been more than six percent per year for childhood mortality in Latin America Andean, Latin America tropical, Latin America central, and north Africa and the Middle East. The lowest rates of decline during the MDG target window have been in Oceania and southern sub-Saharan Africa,” it said.

However, increase in the decline rate has been registered even in countries lagging behind.

“There is compelling evidence that several low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing an accelerated decline in child mortality,” the report says.

Among the developed countries, the US, Britain, New Zealand, and South Korea lag behind other high-income countries, having failed to reach rates of child mortality of less than five per 1,000 by 2010.

The marked accelerations in decline in East Asia and Central Asia deserve note since several studies have reported the slow rate of improvement, especially in China, in the 1990s.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have the highest rates of child mortality in South Asia. In southeast Asia, child mortality is less than 10 per 1,000 in Thailand and Malaysia.

Rates of child mortality in the Philippines and Indonesia are twice as high as those in other countries in southeast Asia; Laos, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, and Burma have rates that are three to four times higher.

For India, child mortality has come down from 87.9 per 1,000 in 2000 to 55.9 in 2010.

With just five years left to achieve the MDGs, a special review summit on the Millennium Development Goals will convene in New York in September this year.

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