The number of children who die before their fifth birthday globally has more than halved since 1990, but the current death count of 15,000 children daily is far too high, the UN said, on Thursday.
“Despite this progress, large disparities in child survival still exist across regions and countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” Under-Secretary General, Liu Zhenmin, and top UN economic official, said.
The UN said in a report that was published on Thursday that in countries south of the Sahara desert, one in 13 children die before they reach the age of five.
In developed countries, the ratio is one in 189, according to the report that was drawn up by several agencies, including the World Health Organisation and the UN Children’s Fund.
It said that preventable and treatable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, as well as birth complications are the biggest killers of young children around the globe.
The UN is especially worried about newborn mortality, as 7,000 babies who are less than a month old die each day.
According to the report, the vast majority of these newborn deaths occur in South Asian or sub-Saharan countries, pointing at high number rates in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
The UN agencies urge countries to improve health care for pregnant women, and to promote immunisation, breastfeeding and cheap medicines.
“Access to clean water and sanitation facilities are also key to keeping small children safe from illness,’’ the UN said.