South Asia, Africa worst regions for child mortality in 2021: UN

South Asia, Africa worst regions for child mortality in 2021: UN

ISLAMABAD – South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa remained the worst regions in terms of child mortality rate in 2021, as both regions lost millions of children due to a lack of healthcare facilities, the latest UN report has revealed.

According to the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) report, an estimated five million children died before reaching the age of five, with another 2.1 million children and youth aged 5 to 24 losing their lives in 2021.

“Children continue to face wildly differentiating chances of survival based on where they are born, with sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia shouldering the heaviest burden,” according to the report posted on the UNICEF website on Tuesday.

“Though sub-Saharan Africa had just 29 percent of global live births, the region accounted for 56 percent of all under-five deaths in 2021, and Southern Asia for 26 percent of the total,” the report said.

Mothers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa experienced the pain and grief of losing their children due to a lack of healthcare facilities, with the two regions accounting for 77 percent of the 1.9 million stillbirths.

“Behind these numbers are millions of children and families who are denied their basic rights to health,” said Juan Pablo Uribe, the World Bank’s global director for Health, Nutrition, and Population and the director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents (GFF).

“We need political will and leadership for sustained financing for primary health care which is one of the best investments countries and development partners can make,” Uribe added.

According to the report, 40 percent of stillbirths occurred during labor, and the majority of them could have been avoided if women had access to quality health care.

“For these youngest babies, premature birth and complications during labor are the leading causes of death,” it said.

“Children born in sub-Saharan Africa are subject to the highest risk of childhood death in the world – 15 times higher than the risk for children in Europe and Northern America,” according to the report.

The UN also warned countries that have yet to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target for under-five mortality that 59 million children and youth will die before 2030, and nearly 16 million babies will die due to stillbirth.

“Every day, far too many parents are facing the trauma of losing their children, sometimes even before their first breath,” said UNICEF Director of the Division of Data Analytics, Planning and Monitoring Vidhya Ganesh.

“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,” he added.

However, the report shows some good outcomes, such as a lower risk of death across all ages worldwide since 2000.

“The global under-five mortality rate fell by 50 percent since the start of the century, while mortality rates in older children and youth dropped by 36 percent, and the stillbirth rate decreased by 35 percent. This can be attributed to more investments in strengthening primary health systems to benefit women, children and young people,” it said. (Anadolu)

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