This blog is based on new mortality estimates and a report released today by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
Mortality among 5-14-year-olds declined by 54% from 15 deaths per 1,000 to 7 deaths, and among 15-24-year-olds by 34% from 17 deaths per 1,000 to 11 deaths.
However,70% or 5.2 million of them were children under five years old.
Because the rate of decline for neonatal mortality has been slower than that for under-five mortality, deaths have been increasingly concentrated in the neonatal period. The share of neonatal deaths among all under-five deaths increased from 40% in 1990 to 47% in 2019, as the global under-five deaths declined from 12.5 million in 1990 to 5.2 million in 2019.
Reductions in neonatal mortality will require greater investment in building stronger health systems and improving coverage and quality of care in the antenatal period. It will also require care at birth and in the first week of life to save maternal and newborn lives.
One in 13 children in Sub-Saharan Africa and one in 25 in South Asia died before their fifth birthday.
The chance of survival depends highly on where children are born. By country, Nigeria has the highest under-five mortality rate at 117 deaths per 1,000 live births (1 in 9 children died).
Globally, the under-five mortality rate is 40 per 1,000 live births for boys and 35 for girls. The probability of dying is higher for boys and girls in all the regions. However, in South Asia the risk of dying before age five for girls compared to boys is significantly higher than global patterns.
Decades of remarkable progress is now threatened by the effects of COVID-19
The new UN IGME estimates cover the years up to 2019—that is, before the novel coronavirus global pandemic started. The UN IGME report warns that the enormous progress made up to 2019 sits at the precipice of a global child mortality crisis brought by the effects of coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
These include medical and food supply chain disruptions, declining utilization and provision of basic health services as well as the reallocation of healthcare resources and personnel.
For example, the Global Financing Facility (GFF) estimates that as many as 26 million women could lose access to contraception across 36 countries, leading to nearly 8 million unintended pregnancies.
These disruptions are putting tens of millions of women and children at risk of dying or enduring lifelong health impacts. Governments and the global health community will need to double down on the provision of essential health services if years of progress are not to be compromised. The GFF actively supports countries to prioritize and plan for continuation of essential health services strengthen frontline service delivery and address constraints in service demand.
These mortality estimates were produced by the UN IGME. The UN IGME includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division as full members. The group was formed in 2004 to share data on mortality, harmonize estimates within the UN system, improve methods for child mortality estimation, and to report on progress towards the MDGs. The group continues to produce reliable and transparent mortality estimates to track countries’ progress towards SDG target 3.2. All data, estimates, and details on methods are available on the Child Mortality Estimates website. The new estimates are also available in the World Bank’s World Development Indicators and HealthStats databases.