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Calls for Increased Efforts to Save Children

Releasing Declining Numbers for Child Mortality, UNICEF Calls for Increased Efforts to Save Children’s Lives

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 12 September 2008 – UNICEF today released new figures that show the rate of deaths of children under five continued to decline in 2007.

The new estimates show a 27 per cent decline in the under-five mortality rate, from 93 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990, to 68 deaths per 1000 live births in 2007. In industrialized countries (including New Zealand) there are, on average, just six deaths for every 1,000 live births.

According to this data, 12.7 million children under five died around the world in 1990, and in 2007 child deaths declined to about 9.2 million.

“Since 1960, the global under-five mortality rate has declined more than 60 per cent, and the new data shows that downward trend continues,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “While progress has been made, much remains to be done.”

Under-nutrition is a contributing cause of more than one-third of the 9.2 million under-five deaths worldwide. While there has also been progress in reducing the percentage of under age five children who are underweight since 1990, an estimated 148 million children in the developing world remain undernourished. To ensure these children have the opportunity to survive, efforts to address the nutritional needs of women, infants, and children must be accelerated.

A number of countries have made particularly good progress in reducing under-five mortality, including Lao PDR, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Nepal, each of which has reduced their under-five mortality rates by more than 50 percent since 1990. These countries are on track to reach the MDG target to reduce by two-thirds reduction the under-five mortality rate between 1990 and 2015.

There has also been significant progress in parts of Africa. Eritrea’s under-five mortality rate declined by 52 per cent between 1990 and 2007. In Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Ethiopia child mortality rates have declined by more than 40 per cent across the same period.

However the highest child mortality is still found in Africa. In Sierra Leone, the country with the worst under-five mortality rate in the world, 262 out of every 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday.

“Recent data also indicate encouraging improvements in many of the basic health interventions, such as early and exclusive breast feeding, measles immunization, Vitamin A supplementation, the use of insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria, and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS,” said Veneman.

“These interventions are expected to result in further declines in child mortality over the coming years.”

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

ENDS

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