5 Million Children Under- Five Years Died in 2021-UN Report

January 16, 2023

About 5 million children under five years and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5–24 years died in 2021, according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).

In addition, 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period according to another separate report.

To put it into perspective, a child or youth died once every 4.4 seconds in 2021.

The reports indicates that, many of these deaths could have been prevented with equitable access and high-quality maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care.

However, the reports points there were some positive outcomes with a lower risk of death across all ages globally since 2000.

Toward this end, the global under-5 mortality rate fell by 50 percent since 2000, while mortality rates in older children and youth dropped by 36 percent, and the stillbirth rate decreased by 35 percent.

This improvement, the reports pointed can be attributed to more investments in strengthening primary health systems to benefit women, children and young people.

However, the reports warns that, If swift action is not taken to improve health services, almost 59 million children and youth will die before 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will be lost to stillbirth.

“It is grossly unjust that a child’s chances of survival can be shaped just by their place of birth, and that there are such vast inequities in their access to lifesaving health services,” said Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at the World Health Organization (WHO). “Children everywhere need strong primary health care systems that meet their needs and those of their families, so that – no matter where they are born – they have the best start and hope for the future,” Part of the report read.

According to the reports, and sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia bears the largest burden of child and youth fatality and still births.

Though Sub-Saharan Africa had just 29 percent of global live births, the region accounted for 56 percent of all under-5 deaths in 2021, while southern Asia accounted for 26 percent of the total.

In addition, children born in sub-Saharan Africa have 15 times higher childhood death risks than those born in Europe and northern America.

In regard to stillbirths, sub-Saharan Africa southern Asia experience disproportionate figures with 77 percent of all stillbirths in 2021 occurring in these regions.

The risk of a woman having a stillborn baby in sub-Saharan Africa is 7 times more likely than in Europe and North America.


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