Countries across the world are making rapid progress in reducing the number of children dying before their fifth birthday, with the total estimated number of deaths falling from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011, according to data released by UNICEF and partners today.

Some 14,000 fewer children died each day in 2011 than in 1990, demonstrating that it is possible to radically reduce child mortality through affordable interventions including vaccines, basic health care, and education.

Low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Liberia and Rwanda are among the countries that have all made dramatic gains, lowering their under-five mortality rates by more than two-thirds between 1990 and 2011.

The report also shows that considerable progress has been achieved in tackling some major childhood diseases, including measles, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.

But despite significant advances, almost 19,000 children under the age of five died every day in 2011, with Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia together accounting for more than 80 per cent of all deaths. The highest regional rate of under-five mortality is in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, on average, 1 in 9 children dies before the age of 5.

“The world has made huge strides in reducing child deaths, even in some of the world's poorest countries like Liberia, through the hard work and dedication of governments, donors, agencies and individuals,” said David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK.

“These remarkable achievements would not have been possible without international aid, and highlights how important it is for that investment to continue.

“Thousands of young children are still dying every day from preventable causes for which there are proven, affordable interventions. We know what works, but we need the resources, the commitment and political will to scale up those interventions and to give each and every child the best possible start in life.”

Commenting on the new data, the UK Government's International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

"It is heartening to see a real reduction in these figures but it is shocking that children worldwide are still dying of preventable causes.

"This is why are we are committed to help immunise up to 250 million children in developing countries by 2015.

"We will strive to save the lives of at least 250,000 newborn babies by the same date and we are tackling big killers such as inadequate nutrition and poor water and sanitation. We will also save children's lives by improving the welfare of their mothers: by keeping more girls in school, by empowering women to decide when and if to have children, and by ensuring access to skilled care when they do."

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Note to editors:

The Child Mortality Estimates 2012 report is released by the UN Inter-Agency Group on Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the United Nations Population Division).

For a copy of the full report, a summary of the key facts and figures, or to arrange an interview with a UNICEF spokesperson, please contact:

Ju-Lin Tan, UNICEF UK, 07814 549 071, julint@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.