Latest Child Mortality Estimates Show World Still Not On Track To Meet Sustainable Development Goals



New UN IGME report reveals urgent need to invest in strengthening data systems to track newborn and child health and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, two-thirds of which ‘have not had reliable data on mortality in the past three years

NEW YORK / GENEVA, December 20, 2021 – The world remains significantly behind in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five, according to latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for the estimation of infant mortality (UN IGME) today.

According to The report, more than 50 countries will miss the target for under-five mortality by 2030, and more than 60 countries will miss the target for neonatal mortality without immediate action. The SDGs call for an end to preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5, all countries aiming to have a neonatal mortality rate of 12 deaths or less per 1,000 live births, and a death rate under-fives of 25 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births, by 2030.

The report says more than 5 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2020 alone, along with 2.2 million children and youth between the ages of 5 and 24.

We are still losing too many young lives for largely preventable causes, often due to weak and underfunded health systems that have faced tremendous pressure from the pandemic. And the burden of these deaths is not carried in the same way around the world. Children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to face the world’s highest risk of death and bear the brunt of this burden of infant mortality,” noted Mark Hereward, UNICEF Associate Director for Data and Analytics. “If we are to achieve the SDGs on child mortality in all countries, we must redouble our efforts to ensure access to effective and high-quality care as well as the continued expansion of coverage of life-saving interventions.. “

The UN’s IGME report also says recent and reliable data on child, adolescent and youth mortality remains unavailable for most countries around the world, especially low-income countries, and the COVID pandemic. -19 posed additional challenges to improve data availability and quality. . Only about 60, mostly high-income countries have a well-functioning vital registration and statistics system that produces high-quality mortality data on time.

In low- and middle-income countries, huge data gaps remain: two-thirds (97 out of 135 countries) have not had reliable data on mortality in the past 3 years. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic posed more challenges for data collection and underscored the urgent need to fill data gaps.

Countries must invest in quality health services, nutrition and other life-saving interventions for women and children to ensure that hard-won gains in tackling child mortality are not lost and to achieve the SDGs ,” noted Feng Zhao, Practice Director for the World Bank’s Global Health, Nutrition and Population Practice. “The World Bank continues to be committed to helping low- and middle-income countries improve the health of women and children and accelerate the reduction of child mortality, including through partnerships such as the Global Financing Mechanism (GFF ). “

UN IGME analyzed excess mortality from COVID-19 based on mortality data the group received from more than 80 countries, half of which are low- and middle-income countries. Following the analysis of this data and the recommendations of its technical advisory group, UN IGME has not adjusted the 2020 rate for COVID-19-related mortality. However, as more good-quality data becomes available, additional monitoring is needed to get a more complete picture of child, adolescent and youth mortality, as well as relevant contributing factors. Future investments in the COVID-19 response and in global health should strengthen all elements of the global health care infrastructure, including leaving a lasting impact on primary health data and systems to help end preventable child deaths.

Intensified efforts are needed to provide quality health services to all children and adolescents, which also means collecting the data necessary to ensure that their physical, developmental and emotional needs are met throughout their lives,” noted Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging at the World Health Organization (WHO). “Investing in children is one of the most important things a society can do to build a better future.. “

The report warns that because the data remains poor, outcomes for children and adolescents in 2021 and beyond remain unknown. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic can affect infant mortality differently depending on age group and socioeconomic status. Timely and accurate data and close monitoring will be needed to understand the long-term impact of COVID-19.

  • Download the Infant Mortality Report from here
  • Multimedia content available for download here


The United Nations Interagency Group for the Estimation of Infant Mortality or UN IGME was formed in 2004 to share data on infant mortality, improve methods for estimating infant mortality, report on progress towards goals survival rates and strengthen the capacity of countries to produce timely and properly assessed estimates. infant mortality. UN IGME is convened by UNICEF and includes the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. For more information visit:



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