Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: 2020 Report

On 9 September 2020, the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) released the latest estimates for child mortality, jointly developed by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the World Bank Group.

The report documents remarkable progress in child survival over the past three decades. The global number of deaths among children under the age of five dropped from 12.5 million in 1990 to 5.2 million in 2019, the lowest level on record.

However, the report reminds us that we are still far from ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age in conformity with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.2. If current trends continue, 53 countries will not be able to meet the under-five mortality SDG target (at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births) and more than 60 countries are falling behind in achieving the neonatal mortality target (at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births) by 2030.

Further, the report warns that the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse decades of progress toward eliminating preventable child deaths, highlighting the need for urgent action to restore and improve childbirth services and antenatal and postnatal care for mothers and babies.

"The new report demonstrates the ongoing progress worldwide in reducing child mortality,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of UN DESA. “While the report highlights the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on interventions that are critical for children’s health, it also draws attention to the need to redress the vast inequities in a child's prospects for survival and good health.”