Child mortality slashed by 48% in sub-Saharan Africa

Categories: Research.

New data released by the United Nations show that under-five mortality rates have dropped by 48% between 1990 and 2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite this dramatic decrease, the region still has the world’s highest rate – 92 deaths per 1000 live births – nearly 15 times the average in high-income countries.

Globally, the new figures estimates that in 2013, 6.3 million children under five died from mostly preventable causes, around 200 000 fewer than in 2012, but still equal to nearly 17 000 child deaths each day.

In 2013, 2.8 million babies died within the first month of life, which represents about 44% of all under-five deaths. About two-thirds of these deaths occurred in just 10 countries. While the number of neo-natal deaths have declined, progress has been slower than for the overall under-five mortality rate.

Angola and Nigeria were drawn out in the report both for representing extremes in the data.

The report found that children born in Angola, which has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world (167 deaths per 1000 live births), are 84 times more likely to die before the age of five than children born in Luxembourg.

Nigeria, the report noted, accounted for 13% of all global under-5 deaths.

Mickey Chopra, head UNICEF’s of global health programmes commented, “There has been dramatic and accelerating progress in reducing mortality among children, and the data prove that success is possible even for poorly resourced countries,”

The leading causes of under-five deaths are pre-term birth complications (17%); pneumonia (15%); complications during labour and delivery (11%); diarrhoea (9%); and malaria (7%). Under-nutrition contributes to nearly half of all under-five deaths.

These latest figures only further add to UNICEF and ICPCN’s earlier research that found that, “Less than 1% of children in Kenya and less than 5% of children in South African and Zimbabwe who are in need of palliative care are able to access these services.” These child mortality figures reinforce the message that there is a large, and largely unmet, need for children’s palliative care.  

You can read the full findings by clicking here.

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