Need for children’s palliative care illustrated by latest child mortality figures

Categories: Care.

New data released by the United Nations 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.

According to the report, since 1990 the global under-five mortality rate has dropped 49% – and the global under-five mortality rate is falling faster than at any other time during the past two decades.

However, progress is far from uniform internationally, and under-five deaths are increasingly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. About half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and China.

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.

Mickey Chopra, head of UNICEF’s 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.”

These new child mortality figures reinforce the message that there is a large, and largely unmet, need for children’s palliative care. Previous research from UNICEF and ICPCN 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.

A longer version of this article was first published on the Africa edition of ehospice. You can download the full report from the Child Mortality Estimates website.