With Halloween right around the corner, many kids are gearing up to get spooked by goblins, witches and vampires. However, for some children around the world, everyday reality is far scarier.
In the past 25 years, we’ve made significant progress in saving young children’s lives. In fact, a newly-released UNICEF report found that the rate of under-5 child mortality across the world fell by more than 60% from 1990–2016, with annual under-5 deaths dropping from 12.7 million to 5.6 million per year. That’s about 1,000 more children surviving each day—thanks in part to the efforts of many and generous contributions from the U.S.
Despite the encouraging progress, 5.6 million children dying before their fifth birthday is still a frightening number. And according to the report, the details are just as harrowing:
- Approximately one in 13 children dies before his or her fifth birthday.
- Most under-5 deaths are caused by diseases that are readily preventable or treatable.
- Children in the poorest households are nearly twice as likely to die before the age of 5 than those from the richest households.
For newborns, the data gets even scarier. The report revealed that the rate of newborn deaths is not decreasing as quickly as that of children from ages 1-5. As a result, newborns account for a growing proportion of child deaths with each passing year.
The facts and numbers speak for themselves:
- Children face the highest risk of dying in their first month of life.
- In 2016, 7,000 newborn babies died every day. Newborn deaths made up 46% of all child deaths, an increase from 41% in 2000.
- The largest number of newborn deaths occurred in Southern Asia (39%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (38%).
- If current trends continue, some 60 million children under age 5 will die between 2017 and 2030—and half of them will be newborns.
Though the numbers are frightening, the progress seen in the UNICEF report shows that ending preventable newborn and child deaths is possible and it can be achieved within our lifetime. Now is the time to mobilize and work with policymakers in Congress to realize that vision. Together, we can provide affordable, quality health care for every mother and child around the world.