UN Calls for More Action as Child Mortality Reduces In Last 100 Years

January 10, 2023
Child Mortality

By Adedapo Adesanya

The United Nations has revealed children under-five mortality rate fell by 50 per cent since the start of the century, while mortality rates in older children and youth dropped by 36 per cent, and the stillbirth rate decreased by 35 per cent.

This, however, leaves room for more work as an estimated 5 million children died before their 5th birthday, and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5–24 years lost their lives in 2021, according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).

In a separate report also released today, the group found that 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period. Tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented with equitable access and high-quality maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care.

The reports showed some positive outcomes with a lower risk of death across all ages globally since 2000. This can be attributed to more investments in strengthening primary health systems to benefit women, children and young people.

However, gains have reduced significantly since 2010, and 54 countries will fall short of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals target for under-five mortality.

The global agency warned that if swift action is not taken to improve health services, warn the agencies, almost 59 million children and youth will die before 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will be lost to stillbirth.

The report noted that children continue to face wildly differentiating chances of survival based on where they are born, with sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia shouldering the heaviest burden, the reports show. Though sub-Saharan Africa had just 29 per cent of global live births, the region accounted for 56 per cent of all under-five deaths in 2021, and Southern Asia for 26 per cent of the total. Children born in sub-Saharan Africa are subject to the highest risk of childhood death in the world – 15 times higher than the risk for children in Europe and Northern America.

Mothers in the two regions (sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) also endure the painful loss of babies to stillbirth at an exceptional rate, with 77 per cent of all stillbirths in 2021 occurring in both, with nearly half of all stillbirths happening in sub-Saharan Africa. This showed that the risk of a woman having a stillborn baby in sub-Saharan Africa is seven times more likely than in Europe and North America.

“Every day, far too many parents are facing the trauma of losing their children, sometimes even before their first breath,” said Vidhya Ganesh, UNICEF Director of the Division of Data Analytics, Planning and Monitoring. “Such widespread, preventable tragedy should never be accepted as inevitable. Progress is possible with stronger political will and targeted investment in equitable access to primary health care for every woman and child.”

Access to and availability of quality health care continues to be a matter of life or death for children globally. Most child deaths occur in the first five years, of which half are within the very first month of life. For these youngest babies, premature birth and complications during labour are the leading causes of death.

While COVID-19 has not directly increased childhood mortality – with children facing a lower likelihood of dying from the disease than adults – the pandemic may have increased future risks to their survival. In particular, the reports highlight concerns around disruptions to vaccination campaigns, nutrition services, and access to primary health care, which could jeopardize their health and well-being for many years to come.

In addition, the pandemic has fuelled the largest continued to backslide in vaccinations in three decades, putting the most vulnerable newborns and children at greater risk of dying from preventable diseases.

The reports also note gaps in data, which could critically undermine the impact of policies and programmes designed to improve childhood survival and well-being.

Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at the World Health Organization (WHO) said, “Children everywhere need strong primary health care systems that meet their needs and those of their families, so that – no matter where they are born – they have the best start and hope for the future.”

“Behind these numbers are millions of children and families who are denied their basic rights to health,” said Mr Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility.

“We need political will and leadership for sustained financing for primary health care, which is one of the best investments countries and development partners can make,” he added.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Leave a Reply

dampen growth in Nigeria
Previous Story

Global Commodity Prices Could Dampen Growth in Nigeria in 2023—World Bank

UBA Naira Cards
Next Story

UBA to Block International Transactions on Naira Cards From January 15

Latest from World

Sangomar deep-water project

Senegal Begins Oil Production

By Adedapo Adesanya Senegal has officially joined the list of oil-producing countries in West Africa after commencing oil production for the first time last