Why reducing child mortality is important

Causes of child mortality in developing countries

Child mortality is also known as under-5 mortality and refers to the death of infants and children under the age of five. In the year 2012 and 2011, 6.6 million and 6.9 million children under the age of five died respectively.

Even though these numbers were a decrease from the number in the previous years, these are still very high numbers of children lost in a year. About half of child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reduction of child mortality is the fourth of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Child Mortality Rate is the highest in low-income countries, such as most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A child’s death is emotionally and physically damaging for the mourning parents.

Many deaths in the third world go unnoticed since many poor families cannot afford to register their babies in the government registry. According to UNICEF, most child deaths (and 70% in developing countries) result from one of the following five causes or a combination thereof: acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, measles, malaria and malnutrition.

Two-thirds of child deaths are preventable. Most of the children who die each year could have been saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, treated bed nets and improved family care.

Empowering women, removing financial and social barriers to accessing basic services, developing innovations that make the supply of critical services more available to the poor and increasing local accountability of health systems are policy interventions that have allowed health systems to improve equity and reduce mortality.