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Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

Click here for September 2008 update on MDG Progress

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Goal 4 Picture
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Target

Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Most child mortalities can be prevented through proper nutrition, care, and simple medical treatment. In 1990, 13 million children in developing countries died before age five from diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and AIDS. By 2006 that number had dropped to 10 million, and under-five mortality rates had declined in all regions. Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest under-five mortality rate in 2006, at 158 per 1,000. Ten of the 11 developing countries with rates above 200 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Sierra Leone (270) and Angola (260), and child mortality rates have increased, rather than decreased, in 12 countries in the region since 1990. The spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic has contributed to this phenomenon. South Asia is also off track for reaching the MDG child mortality target. Even in the regions that are broadly on track to achieve the target, many countries remain off track.
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MDG4 - Fig 1 - Under five mortality rate

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A commonly used measure of child mortality is the under-five mortality rate, which is the probability that a newborn will die before reaching age five (expressed as a rate per 1,000). Regional estimates of child mortality are based on countries’ data covering 99.9 percent of developing countries’ total population.

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MDG4 - Fig 2 - Proportion child mortality target

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One hundred and seven out of 145 developing countries with available data are either off track or seriously off track to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015. In fact, a few on-track countries have a large influence on global and regional indicators. No country in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track or has reached the target. Only 2 of the 33 fragile states have achieved or are on track to reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate they recorded in 1990.

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MDG4 - Fig 3 - Increase in measles

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Although many countries are not on track to reach the MDG child mortality target, inexpensive medical treatments have nonetheless helped reduce the number of child deaths. Oral rehydration tablets have mitigated dehydration from diarrhea, antibiotics have treated respiratory infections, mosquito nets have helped to prevent malaria, and measles vaccinations have protected children from the disease. Since 1992 the coverage of measles vaccinations has increased in all six regions, with the greatest change occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, which now has greater coverage than South Asia. Measles vaccination coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa went from 50 percent in 1992 to 71 percent in 2006. Measles vaccination coverage is defined as the percentage of children ages 12-23 months who received measles vaccinations before 12 months or at any time before the survey.

Photo credit: Curt Carnemark




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