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More than 5m children under five died in 2020, says UN

By Chukwuma Muanya
21 December 2021   |   4:07 am
United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) has warned that the world remains significantly off track to meet Sustainable Development Goals..

Children to die from acute malnutrition. Photo: UN

Predicts 48m others younger than five will die before 2030
United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) has warned that the world remains significantly off track to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five, as more than five million children died before their fifth birthday in 2020 alone, along with 2.2 million children and youth aged five to 24.

The latest estimates released by UN IGME, yesterday, revealed an urgent need to invest in strengthening data systems to track newborn and child health and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, two thirds of which have had no reliable mortality data in the past three years.

According to the report, on current trends, more than 48 million children younger than five will die before 2030, half of them newborns. Well over half of these deaths – 57 per cent – will take place in sub-Saharan Africa (28 million), with another 25 per cent occurring in Southern Asia (12 million).

Meeting the SDG target in the 54 countries that are off track would avert eight million under-five deaths between 2021 and 2030 and reduce the yearly number of under-five deaths to 2.5 million in 2030.

Globally, about 43 per cent of the deaths among those aged five to 24 years occurred among adolescents. Over 70 per cent of all deaths among five to 24-year-olds occurred in sub-Saharan Africa (45 per cent) and Central and Southern Asia (27 per cent). If current trends continue, nearly 21 million children and youth aged five to 24 years will die between 2021 and 2030.

According to the report, more than 50 countries will not meet the under-five mortality target by 2030, and more than 60 countries will miss the neonatal mortality target without immediate action.

The SDGs call for an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under age five, with all countries aiming to have a neonatal mortality rate of 12 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births, and an under-five mortality rate of 25 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births, by 2030.

United Nations Children Fund’s (UNICEF) Associate Director on Data and Analytics, Mark Hereward, said: “We are still losing too many young lives from largely preventable causes, often because of weak and underfunded health systems, which have faced enormous pressure over the pandemic

And the burden of these deaths is not carried equally around the world. Children in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia continue to face the highest risk of death in the world and bear the brunt of this child mortality burden.

“If we are going to achieve the child mortality SDGs in all countries, we must redouble efforts to ensure access to effective and high-quality care along with the continued expansion of coverage of life-saving interventions.”

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