New Delhi: An estimated 5 million children under the age of five died in 2021, and over half of these (2.7 million) deaths were reported among children aged 1 month–4 years, while the remainder (2.3 million) were neonatal deaths. Globally, the under-five mortality rate was 38 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2021. Another 2.1 million children, adolescents, and youth ages 5–24 lost their lives the same year. This means one child or youth died once every 4.4 seconds in 2021. The report further stated that nearly 1.9 million babies were stillborn during the same period.
The above numbers are according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for more than 80 per cent of all deaths among children under the age of five, and 70 per cent among those aged 5 to 24. Reportedly, India’s share of these child mortalities was estimated at 7,09,366 under-five mortalities, 5,86,787 infant deaths and 4,41,801 neonatal deaths.
The UN report stated that most of the under-five mortality deaths occurred because children were deprived of their basic rights to quality health care, vaccinations, proper food, clean water, and sanitation. The mortality rate among this age group continues to rise because of inadequate efforts to address preventable communicable and infectious diseases, the report stated.
It also noted the gaps in data, which could critically undermine the impact of policies and programmes designed to improve childhood survival and well-being. It said that quality data was vital to monitor the survival of children during the neonatal period, the remainder of the under-five period, throughout adolescence, and into early adulthood.
Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population, World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility, said that behind the numbers were millions of children and families who were denied their basic rights to health.
We need political will and leadership for sustained financing of primary health care, which is one of the best investments countries and development partners can make.
The report said most of these deaths could have been prevented with effective interventions such as improved care during the time of birth, vaccination, appropriate nutritional supplementation, and water and sanitation programmes.
Every day, far too many parents are facing the trauma of losing their children, sometimes even before their first breath. Such widespread, preventable tragedies should never be accepted as inevitable, said Vidhya Ganesh, UNICEF Director of the Division of Data Analytics, Planning, and Monitoring.
She said that progress was possible with stronger political will and targeted investment in equitable access to primary health care for every woman and child.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.