UW News

September 27, 2007

International child mortality goals fall short

The target for reducing mortality of children under 5 worldwide is unlikely to be met and the international community is not doing a better job of reducing child mortality than it was 30 years ago, according to a study published Sept. 22 in the British journal The Lancet.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the UW and professor of global health, and colleagues merged available databases and used computed modeling to forecast child mortality to 2015 for 172 countries.

Murray and his co-authors found that global under-5 mortality has fallen from 110 per 1000 in 1980 to 72 per 1,000 in 2005. Child deaths worldwide have also decreased, from 13.5 million in 1980 to 9.7 million in 2005. Global under-5 mortality is expected to decline by 27 percent from 1990 to 2015, but this falls well short of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of a 67 percent decline.

The United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals — which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 — form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions. The target for reducing mortality of children under 5 worldwide is incorporated into the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4).

While several regions in Latin America, north Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and southeast Asia have had consistent annual rates of child mortality decline in excess of 4 percent over 35 years, the authors say: “Global progress on MDG4 is dominated by slow reductions in sub-Saharan Africa, which also has the slowest rates of decline in fertility.”

The study concludes by calling for better and more timely child mortality measurements through fuller use of existing data and application of standard analytical strategies.

“We firmly believe that evidence on levels and trends in child mortality is a global public good and that the entire worldwide public health community will benefit from more concerted efforts to enhance it,” Murray said.

Murray to give Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Oct. 4

Dr. Christopher Murray will give the Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Evaluating the Performance of National Medical Care and Public Health Systems, from 4 to 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, in Hogness Auditorium in the Health Sciences Center. A reception will follow in the Health Sciences Lobby. The lecture is sponsored by the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the School of Medicine in conjunction with the Department of Global Health Lecture Series and Science in Medicine Series. To learn more, contact James Fesalbon at jfesal@u.washington.edu  or 206-543-1144, or visit http://sphcm.washington.edu.