Bioethics News

Global child mortality rate falls by 53% according to Unicef Report

Global child mortality:We have to acknowledge tremendous global progress”

A report by the World Health Organization and Unicef (BBC News, 9 September 2015) has stated that for the first time, steady progress has been noted in the fight to reduce world child mortality rates, mainly in developing countries.

Despite the significant achievements made this year, with figures expected to fall below six million for the first time, the proposed target of reducing the number of deaths by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 will not be met, states the report. Unicef director Geeta Rao Gupta has said that, “we have to acknowledge tremendous global progress […]. But the far too large number of children still dying from preventable causes before their fifth birthday […] should impel us to redouble our efforts to do what we know needs to be done”.

The report continues, noting that 16,000 children die every day from curable diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea or malaria, although the leading cause of early death is linked to malnutrition. The highest risk occurs in the first few days after birth, as 45% of deaths occur before the child is one month old.

Finally, the report underlines the immense difference in child life expectancies throughout the world, differences caused by economic and social inequalities and political instability in developing nations, highlighting as an example children born in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 12 are likely to die before their fifth birthday, compared to an average risk in wealthy nations of 1 in 47. Despite the major difference in mortality rates, our Observatory would like to point out the significant progress made.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.