56 million children are projected to die in next 12 years

Totally preventable diseases killed 15,000 children every day in 2017 and the future seems bleak if the trend continues, say the latest mortality estimates

By Isha Bajpai
Published: Tuesday 18 September 2018
Child mortality rate
As many as 50 countries in the world have not met the SDG child mortality rate target. Credit: As many as 50 countries in the world have not met the SDG child mortality rate target. Credit:

The world could have, but it couldn’t save 6.3 million children aged up to 14 years from dying of completely preventable causes in 2017, reveal the new mortality estimates released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group.

What’s more surprising is that 5.4 million of these children were under five and 2.5 million of them died within the first month of their lives. If it all keeps on going the way it is, 56 million children are projected to die in the next 12 years and half of them newborns, says the estimate.

As many as 50 countries in the world have not met the SDG child mortality rate target of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births. If they were to meet the target, 10 million children under the age of five could be saved.

“While the chances of survival have increased for all age groups since 2000, progress was uneven. Mortality in children aged 1−4 years declined by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2017. Neonatal mortality declined by 41 per cent over this same period, while mortality among children aged 1−11 months, the post-neonatal period, declined by 51 per cent. From 2000 to 2017, mortality among children aged 5−14 declined by 37 per cent,” says the report.

Regional and income disparities also played a major role in children’s lives. One example of that is Sub-Saharan Africa which saw the highest under-five mortality rate which was 76 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. This means that one in every 14 children was dying before seeing their fifth birthday.

The fact that all these children are dying of causes that are very well under medicine’s reach is worrying. This only goes to show that many children and communities don’t even have access to basic health interventions, adequate nutrition and clean water and sanitation for them to be able to find a way out of the infectious diseases and injuries that killed these children. So much that 15,000 children died every day in 2017, when knowledge and technology in healthcare has improved so much. That’s reason enough to worry.

“Millions of babies and children should not still be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services,” said Dr. Princess Nono Simelela, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children’s Health at WHO. “We must prioritize providing universal access to quality health services for every child, particularly around the time of birth and through the early years, to give them the best possible chance to survive and thrive.”

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