Where we Stand

What's Working?

Gains have been made in child survival since 1990, making it possible to increase child survival for future generations.

Worldwide, the mortality rate for children under five dropped by 47 per cent—from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2012.

Despite this accomplishment, more rapid progress is needed to meet the 2015 target of a two-thirds reduction in under-five mortality.

In 2012, an estimated 6.6 million children—18,000 a day— died from mostly preventable diseases. These children tend to be among the poorest and most marginalized in society. Increasingly, child deaths are concentrated in the poorest regions—sub- Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for 5.3 million (81 per cent) of the 6.6 million deaths in children under five worldwide.

The main killers are

  • pneumonia,
  • preterm birth complications,
  • diarrhoea,
  • intrapartum-related complications
  • and malaria.

The first month, and particularly the first 24 hours, are the most dangerous in a child’s life. Newborns now account for almost half (44 per cent) of under-five deaths. Also, undernutrition contributes to 45 per cent of all under-five deaths.

Children who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are 14 times more likely to survive than non-breastfed children.
Despite challenges, many countries with very high child death rates in 1990 are beating the odds and lowering under-five mortality rates, showing progress for all children is achievable. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Timor-Leste and United Republic of Tanzania have lowered under-five mortality rates by two-thirds or more since 1990.

Solutions don’t have to be complicated. There are inexpensive and simple responses that save children’s lives, by preventing and by treating illnesses. These interventions must be made available to those who need them the most.


Team work and inter-departmental collaboration with regional, national and international partnerships.


There is hope. Hope in the goodness of others and that even the most hopeless situation can be remedied.


Determination to reduce child mortality and maternal morbidity.

Launched at the UN MDG Summit in 2010, Every Woman Every Child is an unprecedented global movement, spearheaded by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mobilize and intensify global action to save the lives of 16 million women and children around the world and improve the health and lives of millions more. Working with leaders from over 70 governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, Every Woman Every Child has secured commitments from over 280 partners.

In support of Every Woman Every Child, a total of 176 governments have renewed their promise to children by pledging to redouble efforts on child survival since the Child Survival Call to Action in 2012.

Through the Call to Action, launched by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, with support from UNICEF, as well as hundreds of civil society, private sector and non- governmental organizations, ‘Committing to Child Survival: A Promised Renewed’ was launched as a sustained, global effort to save children’s lives. Partners are pledging to work together to scale up high-impact strategies, monitor progress and mobilize grassroots action and advocacy aimed at ending preventable deaths among children under five by 2035.
Sources: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, Unit- ed Nations; A Promise Renewed, Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Newsletter, Issue 1, May 2013, MDG-Fund (Peru), Saving One Million Lives, UNICEF (Chad, India); Every Woman Every