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More children live to age 5 - UN report

Published:Wednesday | September 17, 2014 | 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP): More of the world's children are surviving to their fifth birthday, but 6.3 million still died last year, mostly from preventable causes, the United Nations children's agency said yesterday.

That's nearly 17,000 young children dying everyday. And while death rates have been cut in half since 1990, the world still is short of meeting a goal of a two-thirds decrease in child mortality by next year, the report by the United Nations Children's Fund said.

"We're building momentum in many countries in the poorest parts of the world," said Dr Mickey Chopra, UNICEF's head of global programmes. The challenge is to spread what works.

child mortality

India and Nigeria together accounted for more than a third of all the deaths, with their large populations. The world's highest rate of child mortality was in Angola, with 167 deaths for every 1,000 live births. By region, the greatest burden is in sub-Saharan Africa, with a rate of 92 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

By comparison, the United States rate is seven deaths for every 1,000 live births.

But, a country's economic status doesn't mean it can't make progress, the report stressed. Every region has made major gains since 1990. It found that eight of the 60 countries with particularly high child mortality had lowered their rates by more than two-thirds since 1990: Malawi, Bangladesh, Liberia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, East Timor, Niger, and Eritrea.

The 6.3 million figure is around 200,000 fewer deaths than in 2012.

easily transmittable

Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria account for about a third of all the under-age-5 deaths, the report found.

Chopra told The Associated Press that pneumonia and diarrhoea are so widespread because they are easily transmittable. But he said those illnesses, along with malaria, are easily preventable with relatively inexpensive antibiotics. "It is very, very easy to prevent those three diseases from killing kids," Chopra said. "An antibiotic is 10, 20 cents, and that saves the life basically."

Newborns, in the first month of life, make up 44 per cent of the deaths. "We're making much faster progress with the older children," Chopra noted.