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Published On: Sat, Sep 14th, 2013

UNICEF: Deaths in children under five cut in half, 45% linked to undernutrition

The number of deaths in children under-five years of age has dropped nearly in half, according to new data released by multiple United Nations agencies Friday.

Spinning globeIn 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide – 18,000 children per day – died before reaching their fifth birthday, according to a new report, roughly half the number of under-fives who died in 1990, when more than 12 million children died.

“This trend is a positive one. Millions of lives have been saved,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “And we can do still better. Most of these deaths can be prevented, using simple steps that many countries have already put in place – what we need is a greater sense of urgency.”

45% of under-five deaths across the globe are linked to undernutrition, according to the UN.

The leading causes of death among children aged less than five years include pneumonia, prematurity, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria.

About half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries: China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. India (22%) and Nigeria (13%) together account for more than one-third of all deaths of children under the age of five.

Newborn children are at particularly high risk, says the UN. “Care for mother and baby in the first 24 hours of any child’s life is critical for the health and wellbeing of both,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General at WHO. “Up to half of all newborn deaths occur within the first day.”

The UN says although the news from the report is promising, it still falls short.

While the global average annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality accelerated from 1.2% a year for the period 1990–1995 to 3.9% for 2005–2012, it remains insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 4 which aims to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

Both globally and in countries, a series of initiatives are in place aimed at improving access to maternal and child health care, inspired by the United Nations Secretary-General’s widely endorsed Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health which aims to save 16 million lives by 2015 through a “continuum of care” approach.

This includes universal access to immunization by 2020, improved access to priority medicines such as basic antibiotics and oral rehydration salts and implement programs to address poor nutrition to name a few.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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