Child mortality

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MDG 4 is focused on lowering the number of deaths among children under the age of five.

Child health is an issue for countries around the world. 

Girl and small child

Global statistics tell us how we are doing as a global community, but not about differences in child health and survival between or in countries.

Comparing child health around the world in the World Thinking Day 2013 badge and pin section (page 22 of the Activity Pack) is your chance to learn more about child health in your own country, while earning your badge.

Think about how you can use this information to stand up for children’s health in your community.

Try our activity ideas here

Why are child deaths a problem everywhere?1,2

Many people would not think that child deaths are a problem in the developed world, but they can be.

Why is it that a child’s death amounts to a tragedy, but the death of millions is merely a statistic?

Patrick McDonald, Founder, Viva Network

Children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday in some countries than others. Even in the same country, children from families who are poor or who face discrimination are more likely to die.

The majority of child deaths in the developed world are among infants. For example, almost 90 per cent of child deaths in the US are among babies under one year old with newborns making up almost 60 per cent of these deaths.3

Most often, infant deaths in the developed world are not caused by a lack of health services or health professionals.

Girl and small child 2The problem is that many women in different parts of the world cannot get the health care they need to have a safe pregnancy and birth. This increases the chances of neonatal complications and death.

There are many different reasons for this.

In some countries, people must pay for their own healthcare or buy private health insurance. Not everyone can afford these costs, while other people may be denied insurance because of their health history.

Costs are not the only thing that makes it hard for women to get the healthcare they need. They may not speak the same language as the health workers or have difficulties getting time off work, finding care for other children, or travelling to healthcare providers.

This points to the fact that children’s health and survival is about more than how wealthy a country is. It is profoundly affected by government policies and the fairness of our societies.

Relevant WAGGGS resources


  1. Amnesty International USA (2010). Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Crisis in the USA.
  2. Amnesty International USA (2011). Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Crisis in the USA – One Year Update Spring 2011.
  3. UNICEF (n.d). Country Statistics.

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