An estimated 5 million children died before their fifth birthday and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5–24 years lost their lives in 2021, according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.
5 million children died before 15th birthday
In its reports, United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation found that 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period. Tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented with equitable access and high-quality maternal, newborn, adolescent and child health care.
“Every day, too many parents face the trauma of losing their children, sometimes before they even take their first breath,” said Vidhya Ganesh, Director of UNICEF’s Division of Data Analysis, Planning and Monitoring. “Such a widespread and preventable tragedy should never be accepted as inevitable. Progress is possible with stronger political will and targeted investment in equitable access to primary health care for all women and children.”
Reports show some positive results with a reduced risk of death at all ages globally since the year 2000. The global under-five mortality rate has fallen by 50 per cent since the turn of the century, while the Mortality rates in older children and youth fell by 36 per cent and the stillbirth rate decreased by 35%. This can be attributed to more investment in strengthening primary health systems to benefit women, children and youth.
59 million children will die by 2030
However, the gains have declined significantly since 2010, and 54 countries will miss the Sustainable Development Goal target for under-five mortality. If swift action is not taken to improve health services, the agencies warn, nearly 59 million children and youth will die by 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will be lost to stillbirth.
“It is grossly unfair that a child’s chances of survival can depend solely on where they were born, and that there are such great inequalities in their access to life-saving health services,” said Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternity, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging at the World Health Organization (WHO). “Children around the world need strong primary health care systems that meet their needs and those of their families, so that no matter where they are born, they have the best start and hope for the future.”
Access and availability of quality healthcare remain a matter of life and death for children around the world. Most child deaths occur in the first five years, half of which occur within the first month of life. For these smallest babies, premature birth and complications during delivery are the leading causes of death.
Similarly, more than 40 per cent of stillbirths occur during childbirth, most of which are preventable when women have access to quality care during pregnancy and delivery. For children who survive beyond the first 28 days, infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria pose the greatest threat.
Pandemic may increase future risks to survival
While COVID-19 has not directly increased child mortality, as children are less likely to die from the disease than adults, the pandemic may have increased future risks to their survival. In particular, the reports highlight concerns about disruptions to vaccination campaigns, nutrition services, and access to primary health care, which could jeopardize their health and well-being for many years to come.
In addition, the pandemic has caused the largest and most continuous rollback in vaccines in three decades, putting the most vulnerable newborns and children at greater risk of dying from preventable diseases.
- Heat Waves In Winter, What Is Happening In Europe?
- No Rhinos Poached In Assam In 2022: How State Achieved Feat
- Why Are Himachal Pradesh Apple Farmers Protesting?