Global Death Rate of Children is Falling

In a new report financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation it was found that death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries at a surprisingly fast pace. The report is based on data from 187 countries from 1970 to 2010.

Worldwide, 7.7 million children are expected to die this year  but this is a vast improvement over the 1990 figure of 11.9 million.

Health experts say the figures mean that global efforts to save children’s lives have started working, better and faster than expected.  Vaccines, AIDS medicines, vitamin A supplements, better treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia, insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria and more education for women are among the factors that have helped lower death rates, said Dr. Christopher J. L. Murray, an author of the report and the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in Seattle. He said the improvements in Africa were especially encouraging. “

The United Nations has set a goal of reducing death rates in children under 5 by two-thirds from 1990 to 2015, but not many countries seem to be on track to reach it.

A third of all deaths in children occur in south Asia, and half in sub-Saharan Africa. Newborns account for 41 percent of those who die. The lowest death rates, per 1,000 births, are in Singapore (2.5) and Iceland (2.6); the highest are in Equatorial Guinea (180.1) and Chad (168.7). In rich countries, some of the worst rates are in the United States (6.7) and Britain (5.3).