Global Death Rates Drop for Children 5 or Younger,By DENISE GRADY
Worldwide, 7.7 million children are expected to die this year — still an enormous number, but a vast improvement over the 1990 figure of 11.9 million. On average, death rates have dropped by about 2 percent a year from 1990 to 2010, and in many regions, even some of the poorest in Africa, the declines have started to accelerate, according to the report, which is being published online Sunday by The Lancet, a medical journal.
Some parts of Latin America, north Africa and the Middle East have had declines as steep as 6 percent a year. Other reports in recent years have found similar trends, but the new article, based on more detailed information and what its authors say are improved statistical methods, paints the most optimistic picture yet. Health experts say the figures mean that global efforts to save children’s lives have started working, better and faster than expected. Vaccines, AIDS medicines, vitamin A supplements, better treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia, insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria and more education for women are among the factors that have helped lower death rates, said Dr. Christopher J. L. Murray, an author of the report and the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in Seattle.