Child mortality still 'alarming' worldwide, says UN

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Infant mortality still “alarming” around the world, according to the UN

The UN lamented that due to the pandemic, millions of children have been deprived of vaccines, which has increased infant mortality.

Five million children under the age of 5 died in 2021, an “alarming” number despite progress since the turn of the century, according to UN estimates released on Tuesday, which underline the disparities in the infant mortality worldwide.

The fact that 5 million children died in 2021 before reaching their fifth birthday is alarming, given the availability knowledge and action to prevent these deaths, says this report prepared by several organizations, including UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Just under half of these deaths (2.3 million) occur in the very first month, mostly due to prematurity or childbirth complications. After the first month, infectious diseases are the biggest threats, including pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

The report denounces these deaths as intolerable because largely preventable thanks in particular to better care at birth, food supplementation, water sanitation programs and vaccination.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered vaccination campaigns, two million more children have been deprived of essential vaccines in 2021 compared to 2020, six million compared to 2019, recalls the report, which is concerned about the consequences of this non-vaccination on future infant mortality.

The organizations nevertheless note some positive signs. The mortality rate for children under 5 has fallen by 50% since 2000.

The rate for stillborn babies has also fallen by 35% since the turn of the century. In 2021, the number of such stillbirths is estimated at 1.9 million, according to a second report from the same organizations released on Tuesday.

But a marked slowdown in progress has been recorded since 2010, the agencies note in a statement. In the absence of rapid action to improve health services, international organizations predict nearly 59 million deaths of children and young people by 2030, to which will be added some 16 millions of stillbirths, they point out.

The report notably highlights gaping inequalities across the world. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are most likely to die before their fifth birthday – this region recorded 56% of deaths of children under 5 in 2021 – ahead of those in Asia. of the South.

Political will and leadership are essential to ensure sustainable funding for primary health care — one of the most valuable investments that countries and development partners can do, World Bank Juan Pablo Uribe commented in the statement.

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