Every five seconds a child under 15 dies according to a new UN report

A new UN report looking at child mortality found that 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, mostly of preventable causes such as lack of access to soap, vaccines or clean water. The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths. The report also found that children from the highest mortality countries are up to 60 times more likely to die in the first five years of life than those from the lowest mortality countries.

Now almost half of deaths under five  (2.5 million) are in the neonatal period. The risk of death in the first month of life is 18 per 1000 births, and double that after the first month.

Professor Joy Lawn, Director of the MARCH Centre, said “These new estimates for the first time include deaths after 5 years of age and up to 15 years, importantly counting young adolescents. The good news is that overall, these child and young adolescent deaths have more than halved since 1990, but other statistics are more sobering.

“Newborn survival will not change with “more of the same” and the UN and partners need to act with urgency or SDG targets will not be met – 50 countries will have to more than double rates of progress to meet SDGs on newborn and child survival. Yet if countries achieved the under five mortality rate of the best performing country in their region then 4.4 million fewer children would die every year. Improving national data and timeliness of these data are still key for tracking impact, and especially sub-national inequalities.”

MARCH is currently working on several projects to reduce child & adolescent mortality. For example, NEST360°, which aims to reduce newborn deaths in African hospitals by 50%, and comprises of a package offered to hospitals including 17 affordable technologies that have the potential to tackle the main causes of newborn deaths and deliver quality care.