World

Child mortality levels 'still too high'

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Media captionThe BBC's George Alagiah has been to investigate the challenges in South Sudan

Despite progress against child mortality, every day more than 18,000 children under five still die from preventable causes, according to a report from Save the Children.

Every year the lives of two million newborn children could be saved by provision of better basic healthcare, the charity says.

Globally in 2012, an estimated 40 million women gave birth without the presence of midwives or qualified health workers.

Global child mortality

2.9 million

babies died within 28 days in 2012

1 million

babies lived for only one day in 2012

  • 51% of births in sub-Saharan Africa not attended by a midwife

  • 6.6 million children died before age 5 from preventable causes

  • Just 2% of children aged 1-2 are immunised in South Sudan

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In sub-Saharan Africa, this amounts to 51% of all children born, compared with 41% in South East Asia.

Research from a US team in 2012 highlighted infectious diseases - and pneumonia - as the leading cause of death among infants and children.

Just 2% of children in South Sudan aged 12-23 months are immunised, according to a 2012 report from Unicef.

More must be done to prevent stillbirths, or the death of babies during labour, Save the Children says.

In 2012, some 1.2 million babies died during labour, while UN figures suggest that, although maternal death rates have halved since 1990, every day some 800 women die during childbirth.

Regional data compiled by the World Health Organization highlights the scale of child mortality in Africa and the "Eastern Mediterranean Region", which includes countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria.

Save the Children suggests that an increase in health expenditure by just $5 per person per year could prevent 147 million child deaths and 32 million stillbirths.

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