New Study Shows Childhood Mortality Declining Worldwide

A new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington shows that childhood mortality rates have plummeted world-wide since 1990.   According to the report, “Worldwide mortality in children younger than 5 years has dropped from 11.9 million deaths in 1990 to 7.7 million deaths in 2010, a rate of decline that is faster than expected.” 

That’s good news. But it gets better:

In 13 regions of the world, including all regions in sub-Saharan Africa, there is evidence of accelerating declines. Within sub-Saharan Africa, rates of decline have sped up by at least a full percentage point over the past decade compared to the previous decade in 14 countries, including Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kenya.

As a result, 31 developing countries are on pace to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 by reducing child deaths by 66% between 1990 and 2015. This includes countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, and Egypt.  In 1990, 12 countries had an under-5 mortality rate of more than 200 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today, no country has an under-5 mortality rate that high, according to IHME estimates.

What makes this so striking is that the general dynamic surrounding the MDGs substantial progress globally (chiefly because of the rapid economic development of China and India) but only stunted progress in sub-Saharan Africa. This is why it is so encouraging to see the words “accellerating declines” associated with MDG 4 in sub-Saharan Africa.   Here is a map from the study that measures childhood mortality rates by country.