Nearly 50 million lives saved since 2000, but 16,000 children still die every day before their fifth birthday--UNICEF

Global MDG target to end child deaths missed by wide margin, however millions can be saved by 2030 with renewed efforts

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NEW YORK, Sept. 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Two new reports out today reveal that the rate of decline in mortality among the world's youngest children has more than doubled over a generation, and an additional 38 million lives could be saved by 2030 if progress accelerates further, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) world leaders are set to approve later this month.

The two reports released today measure and assess child survival: UNICEF's A Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report and a joint report from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group and the Population Division of UNDESA, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2015.

"Today's updated statistics reinforce that we've seen remarkable progress in saving children's lives in recent years—it's been a child survival revolution. But momentum is critical," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "It's taken a unified global effort to prioritize saving children's lives in policy, programs and funding decisions, along with improved data collection, to make this progress possible. However, 16,000 children still die every day from preventable causes. That's eleven children each minute dying from things like pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition. We know how to save their lives—and as a global community, we must do more."

A Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report
Data from UNICEF's A Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report show that since 2000, when governments committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the lives of 48 million children under the age of five have been saved.

The number of children who die from mostly preventable causes before they turn five now stands at 5.9 million a year – a 53 per cent drop since 1990. At 3.9 percent the global annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality between 2000 and 2015 was more than twice as high as what it was in the 1990s.

Some of the world's poorest countries have demonstrated that substantial reductions in child mortality can be achieved despite formidable obstacles: 

  • 24 out of 81 low- and lower-middle income countries, including Cambodia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Uganda, achieved the MDG of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds or more.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, twenty-one sub-Saharan African countries reversed a rising mortality trend or at least tripled their pace of progress compared to the 1990s.

"Saving the lives of millions of children in urban and rural settings, in wealthy and poor countries, is one of the first great achievements of the new millennium—one of the biggest challenges of the next 15 years is to further accelerate this progress" said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt.  "The data tell us that millions of children do not have to die—if we focus greater effort on reaching every child."

Simple, high-impact, cost effective solutions that contributed to this dramatic reduction of under-five deaths include skilled antenatal, delivery and postnatal care; breastfeeding; immunization; insecticide-treated mosquito nets; improved water and sanitation; oral rehydration therapy for diarrhoea; antibiotics for pneumonia; nutritional supplements and therapeutic foods.

Despite progress, the world hasn't met MDG#4, to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds

Between 1990 and the end of 2015, an estimated 236 million children will have died from mostly preventable causes before turning five. Today, leading causes of under-five deaths include prematurity; pneumonia; complications during labour and delivery; diarrhoea; and malaria. Under-nutrition contributes to nearly half of all under-five deaths.

The SDGs challenge countries to significantly increase their efforts to bring rates of under-five mortality down to 25 deaths (or fewer) per 1,000 live births by 2030. By picking up the pace, especially in countries that are lagging, the world stands to save the lives of 38 million more children under the age of five.

About A Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report

Since its initiation in 2012, A Promise Renewed has focused on promoting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, and continuing the effort until no child or mother dies from preventable causes. The vision and principles advocated by A Promise Renewed  – political commitment, accountability and social mobilization to end preventable child deaths in all countries within a generation – are to be taken up in the Sustainable Development Goals to be launched later this month.

Partners that support A Promise Renewed have committed to five priority actions:

  1. Increasing efforts in the countries facing the greatest challenges on under-five mortality;
  2. Scaling up access to underserved populations everywhere;
  3. Addressing the causes that account for the majority of under-five deaths;
  4. Increasing emphasis on the underlying drivers of child mortality, such as women's education and 8empowerment;
  5. Rallying around a shared goal and using common metrics to track progress.

Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2015full release found here.
Today's Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2015, a joint report from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group and the Population Division of UNDESA, highlights the biggest challenge being the mortality rates of newborns with a massive 45 per cent of under-five deaths occur in the neonatal period – the first 28 days of life. Prematurity, pneumonia, complications during labour and delivery, diarrhoea, sepsis, and malaria are leading causes of deaths of children under 5 years old. Nearly half of all under-five deaths are associated with undernutrition.

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit


Image with caption: "A pre-term baby is on the lap of a specially trained nurse in Special Care Newborn Unit in Bangladesh, where under-five mortality declined by almost half between 1994 and 2007. But, the neonatal mortality rates are not declining fast enough and neonatal deaths due to prematurity and low birth-weight account for more than two-thirds of all infant deaths and more than half of all under-five deaths. August 31, 2015. (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at:

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892, 647-308-4806 (mobile),


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