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Levels and Trends in Child Mortality

Estimates Developed by the UN Inter- agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation

MDG 4 calls for reducing the under five mortality rate by 2/3 between 1990 and 2015.As global momentum and investment for accelerating child survival grow, monitoring progress at the global and country levels has become even more critical.

Generating accurate estimates of under five mortality poses a considerable challenge because of the limited data available for many developing countries.

In 2004 the United Nations established the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation to advance the work on monitoring progress towards MDG 4 and to enhance country capacity to produce timely and properly assessed estimates of child mortality.

This report presents the IGME's latest estimates of infant and under five mortality and assesses progress towards MDG4 at the country, regional and global levels.

The most recent IGME estimates show that nearly 8.1 million children under age 5 died in 2009 or more than 22,000 children a day. Still these figures reflect substantial progress. Globally the under five mortality rate has fallen from 89 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 60 in 2009.But the rate of decline – a one third reduction over 20 years is insufficient to meet MDG 4 particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania.

Some facts and figures:

Globally the number of deaths among children under age five has fallen from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. This means that more than 22,000 children under five die each day.

Since 1990 the global under five mortality rates has fallen by a third –from 89 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 60 in 2009.All regions except Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania have seen reductions of at least 50%.

The rate of decline in under five mortality has accelerated over 2000-2009 compared with the 1990s.

Northern Africa and Eastern Asia have made the most progress in reducing under five mortality.

The rate of decline in under five mortality remains insufficient to reach MDG 4 particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania.

The highest rates of child mortality continue to be in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 child in 8 dies before age five- nearly 20 times the average of 1 in 167 for developed regions. Southern Asia has the second highest rates with about 1 child in 14 children dying before age five.

Under five mortality is increasingly concentrated in a few countries. About half of global under five deaths in 2009 occurred in only five countries- India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China. India with 21% and Nigeria with 10% together account for nearly a third of under five deaths world-wide.

Some 40% of under five deaths occur within the first month of life and some 70% occur within the first year of life.

The two biggest killers of children under age five are pneumonia (18 % of deaths) and diarrhoeal diseases (15%).