An estimated 6.3 million children below the age of 15 died last year, mostly of preventable causes, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday.
One child under 15 died every five seconds last year, UNICEF said in a statement, releasing details of a joint report with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group.
“The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths,” the statement said.
“Without urgent action, 56 million children under five will die from now until 2030 – half of them newborns,” UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy Laurence Chandy was quoted in the statement as saying.
“We have made remarkable progress to save children since 1990, but millions are still dying because of who they are and where they are born. With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child,” Chandy added.
According to the statement, 50 percent of all deaths under five years of age occurred in sub-Saharan Africa last year and another 30 percent in Southern Asia.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 children died before their fifth birthday,” the statement said.
“Most children under 5 die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis and malaria,” it added.
Worldwide, however, fewer children are dying each year, the statement said. It noted that the number of children dying under 5 globally fell dramatically from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017, while the number of deaths in children between 5 and 14 years old dropped from 1.7 million to under a million in the same period.