I’ve been looking forward to updating these numbers for a while now and finally had the chance last night. I’d been using this information from Wikipedia (btw, if you are trying to access this and any other Wikipedia site on Wednesday, Jan. 18 you may not get through because they’ve gone on “strike” for the day), but was really excited when Unicef released new numbers finally. The 2010 numbers are available in their Child Mortality Report 2011. (It’s in pdf format so you’ll need Adobe Reader.) One more technical note: in keeping with my positive take on my quest for 100%, I am subtracting the infant mortality rate from 10. (So it’s really an “Infant Survivability” or maybe “Infant Un-mortality” rate!)
What I found was just astonishing, and truly good news. Almost every single country listed had an increase, even if it was only a tenth of a percent! The European countries, which already have extremely low infant mortality rates, even improved, especially in Eastern Europe. (Oddly, most seemed to settle at 99.7% for some reason.)
Latin American, Asian, but most especially African countries all seemed to improve with a few standouts:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) actually improved 1% despite the horrible and continuing conflict there. (I am amazed at the commitment and strength of women and medical personnel to saving children’s lives there that this reflects.)
- Liberia and Zambia improved almost 5%.
- Malawi and Rwanda did improve by 5%.
- And even Sierra Leone, which has been wracked with conflict showed an improvement of almost 2%.
From the report, “Since 1990 the global under-five mortality rate has dropped 35 percent—from 88 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 57 in 2010. Northern Africa, Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-eastern Asia, Western Asia and the developed regions have reduced their under-five mortality rate by 50 percent or more.”
We still have a ways to go, 21,000 children under 5 dying every day, is still way too many. but, according to the report, the rate of decline has accelerated. We are getting there! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were to see this rate get to 99.99% Survivability within our lifetimes?
Thanks for stopping by,
PS. A quick addition/caveat to this post after perusing the news some more over the week. With recent global food prices increasing and some severe food shortages in some countries (especially East Africa), I am less optimistic that infant mortality rates will show a decline in 2011. Another concern which has also come up is the possibility that some countries are under-reporting infant mortality but, with global transparency increasing, I am hopeful that this will occur less and less over time.