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Understanding Child Mortality: Trends, Causes, and Prevention

Child mortality is a significant global health issue that affects millions of children every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five died in 2020, with the majority of deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In this article, we’ll explore the trends, causes, and prevention of child mortality.

Trends in Child Mortality

Child mortality rates have significantly decreased over the past few decades, with a global decline of almost 60% since 1990. However, progress has been uneven across regions and countries. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest child mortality rates, with one in 13 children dying before their fifth birthday, compared to one in 185 children in high-income countries.

Causes of Child Mortality

The leading causes of child mortality include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea
  • Malaria
  • Neonatal disorders
  • Measles
  • Malnutrition

Most of these causes can be prevented or treated with cost-effective interventions, including vaccinations, antibiotics, insecticide-treated bed nets, and improved maternal and child nutrition.

Prevention of Child Mortality

Preventing child mortality requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the underlying causes of the issue. Some effective prevention strategies include:

  • Providing access to basic health care services, including vaccinations, antibiotics, and maternal and child nutrition
  • Improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Promoting health education and awareness campaigns on child health and disease prevention
  • Strengthening health systems and improving the quality of care
  • Addressing social determinants of health, such as poverty, gender inequality, and lack of education

COVID-19 and Child Mortality

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on child mortality rates, with disruptions to essential health services, increased poverty, and food insecurity. WHO estimates that an additional 10,000 children under the age of five could die every month due to the pandemic’s indirect effects.


Child mortality remains a significant global health issue, with millions of children dying every year from preventable or treatable causes. By understanding the trends, causes, and prevention of child mortality, we can take steps to improve children’s health and well-being. Whether through basic health care services, improved access to water and sanitation, health education and awareness campaigns, or addressing social determinants of health, preventing child mortality requires a concerted effort from all members of society.

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