India had the largest share – 24% – of newborn deaths in the world in 2016, a United Nations report said.
The number of children in the world who died before their fifth birthday continued to decline in 2016, but was still significant at about 5.6 million, the report titled “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017” said. This works out to nearly 15,000 deaths per day. The number of such deaths was 12.6 million in 1990.
The report was published by an inter-agency group, comprising the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization and World Bank.
Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for almost 77% of newborn deaths in 2016, according to the report. Newborn deaths refer to deaths during the first 28 days of life. Five countries accounted for half of such deaths: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
Based on current trends, the report projected that 30 million newborns would die between 2017 and 2030, with 80% of them in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Among under-five deaths, India and Nigeria accounted for a third of the world’s share. Pneumonia and diarrhoea were the cause of 24% of deaths below the age of five.
“...Unless we do more to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete,” said Stefan Swartling Peterson, chief of health at Unicef, on the decline in under-five deaths since 1990. “We have the knowledge and technologies that are required – we just need to take them where they are most needed.”