Much of the world is making strides to reduce child mortality according to a study published last month in the Lancet. It is estimated that 7.7 million children this year will die before the age of five. This number is more than 35% lower than the 11.9m child deaths of 20 years ago. The Millennium Development Goal #4 is to reduce the mortality rate of children under five by two thirds by 2015.
The improvement of primary healthcare has had more consequence in countries with low income per person, political instability and high HIV/AIDS prevalence. This is mostly attributed to expanded vaccinations, antiretroviral drugs to pregnant women infected with HIV and initiatives to distribute mosquito netting to reduce malaria infections. The fastest rates of decline of poor nations were in Latin America and North Africa. Wealthy nations have also seen a reduction in child mortality but this is less likely due to the same basic improvements in healthcare of developing nations. Less than 1% of child deaths occur in wealthy countries. Of the 68 priority countries (making up 90% of child deaths) 19 are on track to meet the MDG 4.
Out of the 187 countries surveyed, the United States placed poorly at 42nd. Slipping from our 29th position in 1990. This means other countries are doing a better job reducing child mortality despite our expensive healthcare system.