UN Group Releases Child Mortality Estimates: SDG Target Not in View Until After 2050
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
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Half of all deaths of children under five occur in sub-Saharan Africa, while one-third occur in South Asia, according to a 2018 report by UN agencies and the World Bank.

Children are most at risk in their first year, with the highest risk being among newborns in their first month of life.

The agencies anticipate that, based on current trends, about half the countries in the world will not achieve SDG targets on child mortality by 2030, but only after 2050.

18 September 2018: Half of all deaths of children under five occur in sub-Saharan Africa, while one-third occur in South Asia, according to a 2018 report by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. Children are most at risk in their first year, with the highest risk being among newborns in their first month of life. Based on current trends, the authors anticipate that about half the countries in the world will not achieve SDG targets on child mortality by 2030, but only after 2050.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Population Division of the UN Secretariat’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the World Bank collaborated on the child mortality report, which shows uneven progress, although child survival has improved among all age groups since the year 2000. Children in the poorest households are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from the richest. Rural children are more at risk than urban children, and the children of mothers without any education are 2.6 times more likely to die before reaching the age of five, compared to the children of mothers with high school or tertiary-level education.

Environmental factors also influence child mortality. For example, exposure to air pollution is a factor in higher mortality levels among children under the age of one, the Group reports.

The agencies note that child mortality has declined in recent years, especially in children between one and four years old, where it declined by 60% between the years 2000 and 2017. Deaths of children under one year declined by 51% during the same period, while the rate for children aged 5-14 declined by 37%. However, in many places improvements are insufficient for meeting the 2030 deadline.

The report contains charts detailing progress by region and subregion, and calls for concerted efforts, investments and innovative approaches to accelerate progress, particularly in countries and communities that are falling behind. SDG target 3.2 calls for ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five by 2030.[UN press release] [Report webpage] [Publication: Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2018]

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