An estimated 5 million children died before their fifth birthday and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5–24 years lost their lives in 2021. This is according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
In a separate report, also released today, the group found that 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period. Tragically, the report states that many of these deaths could have been prevented with equitable access and high-quality maternal, newborn, adolescent and child health care.
“Every day, far too many parents are facing the trauma of losing their children, sometimes even before their first breath,” said Vidhya Ganesh, UNICEF Director of the Division of Data Analytics, Planning and Monitoring. “Such widespread, preventable tragedy should never be accepted as inevitable. Progress is possible with stronger political will and targeted investment in equitable access to primary health care for every woman and child.”
Aside from the heart-wrenching findings outlined, the reports do show some positive outcomes with a lower risk of death across all ages globally since 2000. In this regard, it was noted that the global under-five mortality rate fell by 50 per cent since the start of the century, while mortality rates in older children and youth dropped by 36 per cent, and the stillbirth rate decreased by 35 per cent. Guyana Standard understands that this can be attributed to more investments in strengthening primary health systems to benefit women, children and young people.
However, gains have reduced significantly since 2010, and 54 countries will fall short of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals target for under-five mortality. If swift action is not taken to improve health services, warn the agencies, almost 59 million children and youth will die before 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will be lost to stillbirth.