Number of Children under 5 Who Died Decreases to 4.9 Million – UN Report

According to the most recent estimates issued today by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), the number of children who died before their fifth birthday has reached an all-time low, decreasing to 4.9 million by 2022.

The analysis finds that more children are surviving today than ever before, with the global under-5 death rate falling by 51% since 2000. Several low- and lower-middle-income countries have outpaced the trend, demonstrating that success is feasible when adequate resources are committed to primary health care, including child health and well-being. For example, the statistics suggest that Cambodia, Malawi, Mongolia, and Rwanda have reduced under-5 mortality by more than 75% since 2000.

However, the data demonstrate that, despite this improvement, there is still a long way to go until all preventable child and youth deaths are eliminated. In addition to the 4.9 million lives lost before the age of five, nearly half of whom were newborns, another 2.1 million children and youth aged five to twenty-four were killed. The majority of these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

This devastating loss of life is primarily the result of preventable or treatable causes such as premature birth, birth difficulties, pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Many lives could have been saved if more people had access to high-quality primary health care, including low-cost interventions like vaccinations, skilled health personnel at birth, vaccinations, support for early and continued breastfeeding, and childhood illness diagnosis and treatment.

Improving access to excellent health services and protecting children’s lives from preventable deaths necessitates investments in education, jobs, and adequate working conditions for primary health care providers, especially community health workers.

According to studies, if community-based child survival initiatives reach individuals in need, child fatalities in the most at-risk countries could be significantly reduced. This set of initiatives alone would save millions of children and bring care closer to home. To enhance infant health and survival, the primary causes of post-neonatal death, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, and malaria, must be managed holistically.

The research also highlights substantial data gaps, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where mortality rates are high. Data and statistical systems must be improved to better track and monitor child survival and health, including indicators of mortality and health gathered through household surveys, birth and death registration through Health Management Information Systems (HMIS), and Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS).

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