Death rate of under-5s in Ireland has more than halved over past 30 years

State is also becoming a safer place to give birth, with consistent improvements this century in maternal mortality

Since 2000 global child deaths have reduced by nearly half, and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to better access to affordable quality health services. Photograph: Getty Images

Since 2000 global child deaths have reduced by nearly half, and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to better access to affordable quality health services. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ireland has become a markedly safer place for young children, with the death rate among under-5s more than halving over the past 30 years, a new UN report shows.

The State is also becoming a safer place in which to give birth, with consistent improvements in maternal mortality this century, according to a separate international UN report.

The under-5 mortality rate in Ireland fell from nine deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to four last year, the report says. Similar falls were recorded in most countries around the world.

Meanwhile, Ireland ranks 15th lowest in the world for maternal mortality, with five maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. This compares to seven deaths per 100,000 births in 2000.

The Irish figures for maternal deaths are better than those of the UK and Germany, but behind the lowest figure of two per 100,000 recorded in Norway, Italy, Poland and Belarus.

Globally, more women and their children are surviving today than ever before, the reports show, but large inequalities exist.

According to the new estimates, 6.2 million children aged under 15 died last year, and more than 290,000 women died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Of the total child deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first five years, with almost half of these in the first month of life.

An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or one every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes.

First month

The level of maternal deaths is nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa, and their babies are 10 times more likely to die in their first month of life when compared to high-income countries.

Last year one in 13 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before their fifth birthday. This is 15 times higher than the risk a child faces in Europe, where just one in 196 children aged less than five dies.

Since 2000 global child deaths have reduced by nearly half, and maternal deaths by over one-third, mostly due to improved access to affordable, quality health services.

Belarus, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Morocco, Mongolia, Rwanda, Timor-Leste and Zambia are some of the countries that have made the most progress in reducing child and maternal deaths.