Levels & Trends in Child Mortality 2022

In 2021, a staggering 5 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday. This is a tragedy on a personal level, and a setback to global development. The root cause of many of these deaths is a lack of access to basic rights such as quality healthcare, vaccinations, food, clean water, and sanitation. Despite ongoing efforts, preventable communicable and infectious diseases continue to take the lives of innocent children. This article will explore the impact of preventable child deaths in 2021 and what needs to be done to ensure the survival of the most vulnerable children, adolescents, and youth.

Different Chances of Survival for Children

Children around the world face vastly different chances of survival. In 2021, the global under-five mortality rate was 38 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, the rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. In low-income countries, the under-five mortality rate was 67 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to just 5 deaths per 1,000 live births in high-income countries. The situation is similarly dire for older children and youth in sub-Saharan Africa, who face the highest probability of dying.

Deaths Concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia

The burden of child deaths is disproportionately concentrated in certain regions of the world. In 2021, more children and youth died in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia than in all other regions combined. Over 80% of under-five deaths and about 70% of all deaths among 5-24-year-olds occurred in these two regions. This highlights the need for increased recognition, prioritization, and action in these areas.

Vulnerability during the First 28 Days of Life

The first 28 days of life remain the most critical period for child survival. In 2021, approximately 2.3 million children died during the first month of life, or about 6,400 babies every day. These deaths accounted for nearly 47% of all under-five deaths that year. Children in sub-Saharan Africa continue to face the greatest risk of dying during this period.

Addressing Mortality Among Children 1-59 Months

Children aged 1-59 months accounted for 2.7 million of 2021’s under-five deaths. This burden is not evenly distributed across the world, with over 40% of all under-five deaths globally in 2021 among children in this age group in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. This highlights the need for renewed focus on addressing mortality among these children.

Impact of Conflict and Emergencies

Conflict and emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to pose a significant threat to child survival. In 2021, the under-five mortality rate in countries classified as fragile and conflict-affected was triple the rate in other countries. While there is currently no systematic evidence of excess child mortality due to COVID-19, continued monitoring is needed given the potential impact of the pandemic on access to healthcare and intervention provision.

Data Gaps Limiting Efforts to End Preventable Deaths

Data gaps are hindering efforts to end preventable child deaths. Quality data is vital to monitoring the survival of children from the neonatal period to young adulthood, particularly in conflict-affected situations. Investing in data collection mechanisms and systems is an essential part of realizing children’s rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).



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