Millennium development goal on child mortality unlikely to be met

September 20, 2007

The target for reducing mortality of children under-5 worldwide, which is incorporated into Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4), is unlikely to be met. Further, the international community is not doing any better a job of reducing child mortality than it was 30 years ago. These are the conclusions of authors of an Article in this week's edition of The Lancet.

Professor Christopher Murray, Director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA and colleagues merged available databases and used computed modelling to forecast child mortality to 2015 for 172 countries*.

They found that Global under-5 mortality has fallen from 110 per 1000 in 1980 to 72 per 1000 in 2005. Child deaths worldwide have also decreased, from 13.5 million in 1980 to 9.7 million in 2005. Global under-5 mortality is expected to decline by 27% from 1990 to 2015, but this falls well short of the MDG4 target of a 67% decline.

Further, while several regions in Latin America, north Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and southeast Asia have had consistent annual rates of decline in excess of 4% over 35 years, the authors say: "Global progress on MDG4 is dominated by slow reductions in sub-Saharan Africa, which also has the slowest rates of decline in fertility."

They conclude by calling for better and more timely child-mortality measurements through more fully using existing data and applying standard analytical strategies.

They say: "We firmly believe that evidence on levels and trends in child mortality is a global public good and that the entire worldwide public-health community will benefit from more concerted efforts to enhance it."

In a linked Editorial, the ethics of international agencies releasing data prior to peer-reviewed publication are discussed, and the importance of adhering to existing scientific publication protocol is emphasised.

See also related Comment.
-end-
The paper can be viewed at the link below:
http://multimedia.thelancet.com/pdf/press/MDG4.pdf

Lancet

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