UN Report on Child Mortality

UN Report on Child Mortality

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of ”A report by the UN agency on Child Mortality”. This topic is relevant in the “Governance” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


Why in the News? 

The United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation has published a report titled “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality,” revealing a significant decrease in the yearly count of global under-five fatalities in 2022. This decline, from 9.9 million to 4.9 million since 2000, marks a reduction of more than half, according to the report.


Significant Highlights of the Report


Progress Made, But More Needed

  1. The report offers encouraging news: the number of children dying before their fifth birthday has reached a historic low of 4.9 million in 2022
  2. This decline, representing a drop of more than half since 2000, is a testament to the collective efforts of governments, organisations, and individuals worldwide.  However, the report cautions against complacency.  
  3. The annual death toll among children remains high, with over 4.9 million children under five dying in 2022 alone. A significant portion of these deaths occurred within the first month of life (neonatal period), highlighting the need for continued focus on newborn care and preventing complications during pregnancy and childbirth.


A Staggering Loss, A Stark Reminder

The report reveals a sobering statistic: 

  1. An estimated 221 million children, adolescents, and youth died between 2000 and 2022 – a number nearly equal to Nigeria’s entire population.  This emphasises the human cost of preventable child deaths.  Furthermore, the report exposes significant inequalities. 
  2.  A child’s chance of survival is heavily influenced by where they live, their socioeconomic background, and whether they live in a conflict zone.  These disparities underscore the need to address entrenched inequities within the system and ensure all children have a fair shot at survival.


Regional Disparity Threatens Global Goals

  1. While global child mortality rates are declining, sub-Saharan Africa faces a disproportionate burden. Projections indicate the region is likely to bear the brunt of future child deaths unless significant improvements are made. This necessitates targeted interventions and increased support for strengthening healthcare systems in these areas.  
  2. The report raises concerns about many countries falling short of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for child mortality reduction.  If all countries achieved the SDG-5 vision of ending preventable under-five deaths, an estimated 9 million more children would survive to age five.


Investing in Solutions, Saving Lives

  1. The report emphasises the importance of investing in maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) programs.  This is supported by success stories of low- and lower-middle-income countries that have dramatically reduced under-five mortality rates, some slashing their rates by more than two-thirds since 2000. 
  2. These outcomes demonstrate a high return on investment for MNCH programs and provide evidence that strategic and sustained action, even in resource-constrained settings, can significantly improve child survival rates. 
  3. The report highlights specific interventions like increasing access to family planning services and improving antenatal care, along with better data collection and reporting systems. These measures, combined with continued investment in MNCH programs, offer a roadmap for further progress and ensure a brighter future for all children.


Relation between child mortality and maternal mortality

  1. Child mortality and maternal mortality are intimately linked, forming a crucial indicator of a population’s overall health and well-being. Maternal mortality, the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days after delivery, often reflects deficiencies in healthcare systems, including access to skilled birth attendants, prenatal care, and emergency obstetric services.
  2. When mothers die due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, it not only deprives families of caregivers but also increases the risk of child mortality. Children born to mothers who die in childbirth are more vulnerable to death due to a lack of maternal care, breastfeeding, and immunizations. Additionally, factors contributing to maternal mortality, such as poverty, inadequate nutrition, and limited access to healthcare, often overlap with those affecting child survival.
  3. Addressing maternal mortality through improved maternal healthcare services, education, and socioeconomic development can lead to significant reductions in child mortality rates, highlighting the interconnectedness between maternal and child health outcomes.

Reasons for High Child mortality


  • Complications during pregnancy and childbirth: This includes factors like premature birth, low birth weight, maternal infections, and complications during delivery.
  • Neonatal health issues: Conditions affecting newborns in the first month of life, such as respiratory problems, infections, and birth defects, contribute significantly to child mortality.
  • Limited access to healthcare: In regions with weak healthcare infrastructure or limited access to medical professionals, children are more susceptible to preventable diseases and complications. This lack of access can also hinder essential interventions during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Undernutrition: Malnutrition, particularly among pregnant women and young children, weakens immune systems and increases the risk of infections and complications.
  • Unsafe water and sanitation: Lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities contributes to the spread of diarrheal diseases and other illnesses, particularly among children whose immune systems are still developing.
  • Geographic location: Resource-limited settings and regions with high burdens of infectious diseases typically have higher child mortality rates.


India’s Initiatives Against Malnutrition and Child Mortality


  • National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan): This flagship program aims to achieve a “Malnutrition-Free India” by 2022. It focuses on improving the nutritional quality of food, ensuring proper testing by accredited labs, and strengthening delivery mechanisms. Additionally, the Poshan Tracker app leverages technology to enhance program governance.
  • Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0: Announced in the 2021-2022 budget, this integrated program aims to improve the effectiveness of POSHAN Abhiyaan. It strengthens Anganwadis (rural childcare centres) and expands the scope of nutritional support offered across all Indian states and territories.
  • Anaemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyan: Launched in 2018, this mission tackles anaemia, a major public health concern in India. It aims to significantly reduce the national anaemia prevalence by accelerating its annual decline.
  • Mission Shakti: This mission empowers women through two sub-schemes:
  1. Sambal: Focuses on safety and security for women, with initiatives like One-Stop Centers (offering comprehensive support services for women in distress) and Women Helplines (providing emergency assistance).
  2. Samarthya: Promotes women’s empowerment through programs like Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (maternity benefit scheme) and skill development initiatives.
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: Launched in 1975, this program offers a holistic approach to child development and maternal health. It provides essential services like food, preschool education, healthcare, and immunisations for children under six and their mothers.

Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 18th March 2024


Prelims practise question


Q1. Which of the following are the objectives of the ‘National Nutrition Mission’? 

  1. To create awareness relating to malnutrition among pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  2. To reduce the incidence of anaemia among young children, adolescent girls and women.
  3. To promote the consumption of millets, coarse cereals and unpolished rice.
  4. To promote the consumption of poultry eggs.

How many of the statements above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. Only three
  4. All four


Answer: A


Mains practise question


Q1.  What are the primary underlying factors contributing to the persistent regional disparities in child mortality rates, and what strategies could be implemented to alleviate these inequalities?


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