Health News

Child mortality rates at record low: UN report

By Rich Bowden M&C Staff Writer Sep 14, 2007, 14:45 GMT

Child mortality rates at record low: UN report

Filipina mothers breastfeed their babies in a government hospital in a suburb of Manila, Philippines, on 21 June 2007. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

(M&C) - The UN children's health agency UNICEF has reported the lowest incidence of child mortality -- under 10 million worldwide -- for the first time in a report released Thursday. UNICEF said the figure of 9.7 million child deaths compares favourably to the 13 million recorded in 1990 and showed "solid progress on child survival."

UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman told a media gathering that "More children are surviving today than ever before. Now we must build on this public health success to push for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)."

Agreed to by the 192 UN member states, one of the MDG's aims was the reduction in child deaths by two thirds by 2015.

However despite the excellent result, Veneman warned against over-confidence saying "The loss of 9.7 million young lives each year is unacceptable. Most of these deaths are preventable and, as recent progress shows, the solutions are tried and tested. We know that lives can be saved when children have access to integrated, community-based health services, backed by a strong referral system."

UN experts credit the reduction in child deaths worldwide to successful campaigns against measles and malaria and the encouragement of breast feeding. The report shows of the 9.7 million children who die each year, 4.8 million are from Sub-Saharan Africa and 3.1 million from South Asia.

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