Every child grows and thrives
We believe that every child, regardless of circumstances or socio-economic background, has the right to grow and thrive.
What progress has been made?
Although there is much to be done to end preventable child and infant deaths, significant progress has been made.
Less Mortality Rate
Since 1990, the under-five mortality rate has decreased from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births, to 38 in 2019. That means 20,000 fewer children are dying each day.
Vaccines are amongst the greatest advances of modern medicine. They have slashed child mortality rates in half, saving millions of lives. Between 2000 and 2018, the lives of over 23 million children have been saved through receiving measles vaccinations.
Although this progress is encouraging, UNICEF is committed to eliminating preventable child deaths, and ensuring every child, everywhere, has a healthy childhood.
No child should die from preventable causes
Every year in developing countries, millions of children's lives are tragically cut short by preventable causes.
Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children.
Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under 5.
Every year, approximately 800,000 children lose their lives to pneumonia. These deaths are strongly linked to undernutrition, lack of safe water and sanitation, indoor air pollution and inadequate access to health care.
Simple preventative and protective measures do exist - such as: - exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding and vitamin A supplements. - Immunisations, clean water and sanitation, and reduction in household air pollution.
- Antibiotics, in 2018, UNICEF provided antibiotic treatment to over 6.8 million children in 63 countries.
Diarrhoea continues to be a significant cause of under-five deaths.
Diarrhoea continues to be a significant cause of under-five deaths, despite the availability of easy and affordable treatments. In 2017, diarrhoea killed approximately 480,000 young children across the globe, accounting for 8 per cent of all deaths among children under age 5.
Diarrhoea can mean dehydration, malnutrition, weakened immune system, and even death for children who aren't given proper treatment.
Access to safe drinking water, adequate nutritious food, promoting hand-washing, and education around suitable treatment will all save lives.
The first month of life is known as the neonatal period, it is the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival.
Globally, 2.4 million children died in the first month of life in 2019 – approximately 6,700 neonatal deaths every day.
Most of these deaths are preventable. Birth attendant care, newborn resuscitation, and preventing brain damage after oxygen deprivation are all proven to save young lives.
The presence of a skilled health attendant at a child's birth greatly increases the infant’s chance of survival, but too many mothers in the least developed countries have to give birth without this assistance.
Postnatal care is also a crucial time to check up on the baby’s health, detect warning signs of potential problems, and offer advice on breastfeeding and immunisation, which all improve a baby’s chance of survival.
Unicef works to safeguard every child's basic right to survive
Every two minutes, a child dies of malaria. It can be easily treated with antimalarial drugs, and simple preventative measures such as using mosquito nets and insect repellent are effective.
In 2018, the highly contagious measles virus was responsible for 383 deaths every day, mostly of children under 5, despite the availability of a safe, effective and affordable vaccine.
UNICEF has helped reach more than 760 million children with life-saving vaccines - preventing more than 13 million deaths - in the last 20 years.
High rates of vaccine coverage creates 'herd' immunity. Herd immunity protects children who are unable to be vaccinated, such as newborns and children with compromised immune systems.
Bacteria can causes deadly diseases including tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and tuberculosis. Preventing infant deaths from these infections is achievable, but immunisation must be prioritised to ensure that every child is protected.
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UNICEF Aotearoa helps save and protect the world's most vulnerable children