About 61 in every 1,000 children in India die before their fifth birthday. In Rwanda, the figure is 54 in 1,000. Around 48 children in 1,000 die before five in Nepal and 43 in Cambodia. The rates are worse in sub-Saharan Africa, where hundreds out of every 1,000 children die before they reach the age of five.
The new report by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund released Thursday indicated pneumonia and diarrhea – responsible for 18% and 11% of deaths respectively – as the main causes of child deaths worldwide. UNICEF estimated that 1.7 million children under the age of five died in India last year alone, with almost 5,000 child deaths daily.
According to the Wall Street Journal, India spends 1.4% of its GDP on healthcare and has pledged to increase expenditure to 2.5% by 2017. The country also boosted public spending on malnutrition programs for children. Still, there are prevalent cases of diarrhea in India, responsible for 13% of child deaths in 2010. The disease could have been easily prevented by basic measures such as washing hands with soap and clean water, and proper sanitation. The report described India as a country where “rapid economic growth and strong inflows of trade and investment in recent years have failed to bring about corresponding reduction of inequities in under-five mortality”.
The report comes as the target year for the UN Millennium Development Goal approaches. One of the UN’s goal is to reduce the global child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.