UNICEF: More Than 26,000 Children Under 5 Die Every Day

The United Nations Children’s Fund annual report on global child health, The State of World’s Children Report 2008, was released on 22 January 2008.

Child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children are “sensitive barometers of a country’s development and wellbeing and as evidence of its priorities and values” says UNICEF. “Investing in the health of children and their mothers is a human rights imperative and one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future”.

Perhaps one of the most important regions in the world in the fight against child morality rates is sub-SaharanAfrica. It is home to 28 of the 30 countries with the highest child-deaths rates.

The region is completely devastated also because the number of extremely poor people has increased rapidly. It is now the region of greatest concern although the rate of child morality has dropped 14 % since 1990.


Statistics in the 2008 Edition

  • More than 26,000 children under 5 die each day on average, with Sierra Leone, Angola and Afghanistan having the worst perspective. In 2006 newborns in Sierra Leone had the lowest chances of surviving until their fifth anniversary, with 270 deaths per 1,000 births. Angola was second with 260 deaths per 1,000 births, followed by Afghanistan with 257.
  • These terrible figures spoil the figures in the world’s best-rating countries with 3 deaths per 1,000 births in Sweden, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Singapore.
  • The rate worldwide in 2006 was 72 deaths per 1,000 births. The average rate in industrialized countries was six deaths per 1,000 births.
  • The report notes that in 2006, 9.7 million children died before the age of five. The loss of 9.7 million young lives each year is unacceptable, especially because most of these deaths with causes such as diarrhea, malnutrition, unsafe water, poor hygiene, malaria, mother-to-child transmission of HIV and neonatal problems, are preventable. However for the first time since records began the absolute number of under-five deaths fell below 10 million.


The 2008 Edition With Regional Editions

This year “The State of the World’s Children 2008” is also available in regional editions. This annual report explores the topic of child survival from a regional perspective. “The regional editions aim not only at contributing to a better understanding of key issues for child survival in a particular region but also at encouraging broad public debate. Regional editions of The State of the World’s Children 2008 for Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean are forthcoming in this space” says UNICEF.


The 2008 Edition With Panels

The report highlights some issues in a series of panels:

  • Underlying and structural causes of maternal and child mortality, child survival in post-conflict situations, Newborn survival;
  • the main proximate causes of child deaths; child health in complex emergencies;
  • HIV and AIDS in Africa and its impact on women and children; strengthening data collection and monitoring for public health decisions;
  • Brazil’s national community based health system network; and
  • empowering women to advance maternal, newborn and child health care.


The 2008 edition with solutions

The report provides a new way of working together for multilateral institutions and reducing under-five mortality through community-based programmes, and emphasises how important safe water adequate sanitation and improved hygiene practices are.

UNICEF report concludes that solutions or effective interventions to prevent child-deaths are well known, simple and relatively cheap with the potential to save two-thirds of the children currently at risk. Simple health care measures such as vaccination, insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) and vitamin supplements were included.