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Concept: Child mortality


BACKGROUND: Inequity in access to and use of child and maternal health interventions is impeding progress towards the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals. This study explores the potential health gains and equity impact if a set of priority interventions for mothers and under fives were scaled up to reach national universal coverage targets for MDGs in Tanzania. METHODS: We used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to estimate potential reductions in maternal and child mortality and the number of lives saved across wealth quintiles and between rural and urban settings. High impact maternal and child health interventions were modelled for a five-year scale up, by linking intervention coverage, effectiveness and cause of mortality using data from Tanzania. Concentration curves were drawn and the concentration index estimated to measure the equity impact of the scale up. RESULTS: In the poorest population quintiles in Tanzania, the lives of more than twice as many mothers and under-fives were likely to be saved, compared to the richest quintile. Scaling up coverage to equal levels across quintiles would reduce inequality in maternal and child mortality from a pro rich concentration index of -0.11 (maternal) and -0.12 (children) to a more equitable concentration index of -0,03 and -0.03 respectively. In rural areas, there would likely be an eight times greater reduction in maternal deaths than in urban areas and a five times greater reduction in child deaths than in urban areas. CONCLUSIONS: Scaling up priority maternal and child health interventions to equal levels would potentially save far more lives in the poorest populations, and would accelerate equitable progress towards maternal and child health MDGs.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Maternal death, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, Poverty reduction


Monitoring development indicators has become a central interest of international agencies and countries for tracking progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. In this review, which also provides an introduction to a collection of articles, we describe the methodology used by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation to track country-specific changes in the key indicator for Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), the decline of the under-five mortality rate (the probability of dying between birth and age five, also denoted in the literature as U5MR and (5)q(0)). We review how relevant data from civil registration, sample registration, population censuses, and household surveys are compiled and assessed for United Nations member states, and how time series regression models are fitted to all points of acceptable quality to establish the trends in U5MR from which infant and neonatal mortality rates are generally derived. The application of this methodology indicates that, between 1990 and 2010, the global U5MR fell from 88 to 57 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the annual number of under-five deaths fell from 12.0 to 7.6 million. Although the annual rate of reduction in the U5MR accelerated from 1.9% for the period 1990-2000 to 2.5% for the period 2000-2010, it remains well below the 4.4% annual rate of reduction required to achieve the MDG 4 goal of a two-thirds reduction in U5MR from its 1990 value by 2015. Thus, despite progress in reducing child mortality worldwide, and an encouraging increase in the pace of decline over the last two decades, MDG 4 will not be met without greatly increasing efforts to reduce child deaths.

Concepts: Death, Malaria, Demography, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, International development


Household surveys undertaken in Niger since 1998 have revealed steady declines in under-5 mortality which have placed the country ‘on track’ to reach the fourth Millennium Development goal (MDG). This paper explores Niger’s mortality and health coverage data for children under-5 years of age up to 2012 to describe trends in high impact interventions and the resulting impact on childhood deaths averted. The sustainability of these trends are also considered.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Child, Childhood, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Sustainable development, African Development Bank


Adopted in 2000, United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4 set a target to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015, with measles vaccination coverage as one of the progress indicators. In 2010, the World Health Assembly (WHA) set three milestones for measles control by 2015: 1) increase routine coverage with the first dose of measles-containing vaccine (MCV1) for children aged 1 year to ≥90% nationally and ≥80% in every district; 2) reduce global annual measles incidence to <5 cases per 1 million population; and 3) reduce global measles mortality by 95% from the 2000 estimate (1,2).* In 2012, WHA endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan(†) with the objective to eliminate measles in four World Health Organization (WHO) regions by 2015. Countries in all six WHO regions have adopted measles elimination goals. Measles elimination is the absence of endemic measles transmission in a region or other defined geographical area for ≥12 months in the presence of a well performing surveillance system. This report updates a previous report (3) and describes progress toward global measles control milestones and regional measles elimination goals during 2000-2015. During this period, annual reported measles incidence decreased 75%, from 146 to 36 cases per 1 million persons, and annual estimated measles deaths decreased 79%, from 651,600 to 134,200. However, none of the 2015 milestones or elimination goals were met. Countries and their partners need to act urgently to secure political commitment, raise the visibility of measles, increase vaccination coverage, strengthen surveillance, and mitigate the threat of decreasing resources for immunization once polio eradication is achieved.

Concepts: Malaria, Vaccine, Vaccination, Smallpox, World Health Organization, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality


Given the high morbidity and mortality among children in low- and middle-income countries as a result of preventable causes, the U.S. government and the United Nations Children’s Fund convened an Evidence Summit on Enhancing Child Survival and Development in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries by Achieving Population-Level Behavior Change on June 3-4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. This article summarizes evidence for technological advances associated with population-level behavior changes necessary to advance child survival and healthy development in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries. After a rigorous evidence selection process, the authors assessed science, technology, and innovation papers that used mHealth, social/transmedia, multiplatform media, health literacy, and devices for behavior changes supporting child survival and development. Because of an insufficient number of studies on health literacy and devices that supported causal attribution of interventions to outcomes, the review focused on mHealth, social/transmedia, and multiplatform media. Overall, this review found that some mHealth interventions have sufficient evidence to make topic-specific recommendations for broader implementation, scaling, and next research steps (e.g., adherence to HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy, uptake and demand of maternal health service, and compliance with malaria treatment guidelines). While some media evidence demonstrates effectiveness in changing cognitive abilities, knowledge, and attitudes, evidence is minimal on behavioral endpoints linked to child survival. Population level behavior change is necessary to end preventable child deaths. Donors and low- and middle-income countries are encouraged to implement recommendations for informing practice, policy, and research decisions to fully maximize the impact potential of mHealth and multimedia for child survival and development.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, AIDS, Psychology, Health, Malaria, Change, United Nations, Child mortality


To analyse trends in under-five mortality rate in South Africa (1990-2011), particularly the contribution of AIDS deaths.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Africa, Life expectancy, South Africa, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, African Union


Remarkable financial and political efforts have been focused on the reduction of child mortality during the past few decades. Timely measurements of levels and trends in under-5 mortality are important to assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) target of reduction of child mortality by two thirds from 1990 to 2015, and to identify models of success.

Concepts: World Bank, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, International development, African Development Bank, Poverty reduction


Achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 for child survival requires acceleration of gains in newborn survival, and current trends in improving maternal health will also fall short of reaching MDG 5 without more strategic actions. We present a Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) strategy for accelerating progress on MDGs 4 and 5, sustaining the gains beyond 2015, and further bringing down maternal and child mortality by two thirds by 2030.

Concepts: Maternal death, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, Maternal health, International development, African Development Bank, Poverty reduction


The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) is one of the most powerful and cost-effective public health programmes to improve child survival. We assessed challenges and enablers for the programme in South Africa, as we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.

Concepts: Malaria, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality, International development, African Development Bank


Millennium Development Goal 4 calls for a reduction in the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. In 2011, estimates were published by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The difference in the U5MR estimates produced by the two research groups was more than 10% and corresponded to more than ten deaths per 1,000 live births for 10% of all countries in 1990 and 20% of all countries in 2010, which can lead to conflicting conclusions with respect to countries' progress. To understand what caused the differences in estimates, we summarised differences in underlying data and modelling approaches used by the two groups, and analysed their effects.

Concepts: Death, Mortality rate, Malaria, Demography, Infant mortality, United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, Child mortality