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UN figures show rate of child mortality dropping

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Summary of story from UN News Centre, September 15, 2011

The number of young children who die each day has plunged over the past two decades, new United Nations (UN) figures show, but the world is still lagging far behind in efforts to achieve its target for reducing child mortality.

The latest estimates, issued by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), indicate that the number of children under the age of five who die each year fell from more than 12 million in 1990 to about 7.6 million last year.

That decrease means about 12,000 fewer children are dying each day than were two decades ago.

Greater access to health care, particularly in remote areas, broader immunization coverage and higher-quality care in many countries are among the factors being cited for the improvement.

Child mortality rates are dropping in every region of the world, including the area with the highest number of under-five fatalities, sub-Saharan Africa, where the rate of the decline has accelerated in recent years.

Success stories include Niger, Malawi, Liberia, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Nepal and Bangladesh, all of which have experienced substantial falls in child mortality rates since 1990.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said the new figures showed that “we can make progress even in the poorest places, but we cannot for a moment forget the chilling fact of around 21,000 children dying every day from preventable causes”.

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