UNICEF, WHO. Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2018, September 2018. UNICEF ; 44 p.
Despite progress over the past quarter-century, millions of newborns, children and young adolescents die every year, mostly of preventable or treatable causes such as infectious diseases and injuries. These deaths reflect the limited access of children and communities to basic health interventions such as vaccination, medical treatment of infectious diseases, adequate nutrition and clean water and sanitation. Therefore, mortality rates among children and young adolescents are not only key indicators for child and young adolescent well-being, but, more broadly, for sustainable social and economic development.
While concerted efforts aimed at improving child survival have driven large reductions in mortality levels among children under 5 years of age as well as for children and young adolescents aged 5–14 in recent decades, persistent and intolerably high numbers of child and young adolescent deaths mean more work remains to be done to address the specific survival needs of children and young adolescents. The global community recognizes the crucial need to end preventable child deaths, making it an essential part of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescent’s Health (2016–2030)1 and the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)2 to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all people at all ages.
SDG goal 3 calls for an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age and specifies that all countries should aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030. Given the current burden of deaths, child survival remains an urgent concern. In 2017 alone, 5.4 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday – 2.5 million of those children died in the first month of life.
At a time when the knowledge and technology for life-saving interventions are available, it is unacceptable that 15,000 children died every day in 2017 mostly from preventable causes and treatable diseases.
While the mortality risk in the age group 5–14 is the lowest among all ages and represents about a fifth of the risk of children under age 5, almost one million children aged 5–14 died in 2017 alone. Moreover, although the risk of death for children aged 5–14 may be lower than for younger children, children aged 5–14 also die predominantly of avoidable causes such as infectious diseases, drowning and road injuries. Given the crucial early stages of education that take place at these ages, as well as the onset of adolescence and the broader social implications that accompany that stage of life, the survival and well-being of children during this crucial period should not be ignored. Greater efforts are needed to save the lives of children aged 5–14; with public health interventions covering this age group significant progress could be made.
Achieving the ambitious child survival goals requires ensuring universal access to safe, effective, high-quality and affordable care for women, children and adolescents. It also requires an understanding of the levels and trends in child mortality as well as the underlying causes of child and young adolescent deaths. The monitoring of child and young adolescent survival requires continual improvement in the measurement of mortality, particularly in countries that lack timely and accurate mortality data. Reliable estimates of child and young adolescent mortality at the national, regional and global level are necessary for evidence-based policymaking to improve the survival chances of the world’s children.
In the absence of reliable vital registration data in many countries, modelling and monitoring of child and young adolescent mortality rates remains a necessary resource for policymaking and priority setting. The United Nations Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) produces estimates of child and young adolescent mortality annually, reconciling the differences across data sources and taking into account the systematic biases associated with the absence of reliable vital registration datain many countries, modelling and monitoring of child and young adolescent mortality rates remains a necessary resource for policymaking and priority setting. The United Nations Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) produces estimates of child and young adolescent mortality annually, reconciling the differences across data sources and taking into account the systematic biases associated with
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