Millennium Development Goals

Goal 4

Reduce Child Mortality by 2015

Q: How does building roads reduce child deaths?
A: Roads make health facilities more accessible to poor families in rural areas, which allows for more frequent and less costly visits for their children—plus better access to antenatal/postnatal care, helping to prevent infant and maternal deaths and illness.

World Bank: Worrying Trends in Child Mortality

Child deaths have been almost halved over the last few decades thanks to better nutrition, health care, and standards of living. In 1990, more than 12 million children in developing countries died before the age of 5 from diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, pneumonia, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. By 2012, that number had dropped to 6.6 million. Yet under-5 mortality rates remain unacceptably high, especially considering that most of these deaths are due to preventable or treatable causes. The child mortality MDG is one of the goals lagging farthest behind: more than half of all countries are not on track to reduce the under-5 death rate by two-thirds by 2015, and less than one third of IDA countries will meet the goal. The World Bank is redoubling efforts in nutrition, health care, infrastructure, and other areas that can help save children’s lives.

World Bank projects have reduced child malnutrition in Bangladesh. World Bank projects have reduced child malnutrition in Bangladesh.
We can reduce child mortality by:
strengthening national health systems
expanding immunization programs
enhancing growth monitoring of children
ensuring the survival and improved health of mothers
supporting better nutrition for child and mother
investing in improved reproductive health
making infrastructure investments

Making Strides in Child Survival

Investment in reducing child mortality by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, resulted in nearly 600 million children being immunized from 2003 to 2013.

Our Child Health Strategy

  • Strengthen national health systems for better results
  • Tie financing to performance in improving children’s health and saving their lives
  • Protect the poor from ill health and unaffordable costs and treatment

Some of Our MDG 4 Results

With IDA’s help, between 2003 and 2013, more than 117  million people gained access to essential health services;  nearly 195 million pregnant women received antenatal care; and nearly 150 million mosquito nets were purchased and/or distributed in the poorest countries.

  • Afghanistan: Under-5 mortality dropped from 257 per 1,000 live births in 2002 to 97 per 1,000 in 2012. Full immunization coverage in rural areas tripled from 11% in 2003 to 30% in 2010/11.
  • Burkina Faso: 100% of children have had access to free vaccinations since 2002, and all women became eligible for free prenatal care in 2003.
  • Ghana: Under-5 mortality rates fell to 80 per 1,000 live births in 2008 from 111 in 2003, due to improved maternal and child health care; immunization coverage improved to 79% in 2008 from 69% in 2003.

How’s the World Doing?

  • 14,000fewer under-5 children died each day from diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, pneumonia, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in 2011 than in 1990.
  • 1 in 9 children die before the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 65% of all countries are not on track to meet MDG 4 by 2015.
  • 3 million newborn infants die each year, most due to preventable or treatable causes.


Child in Ethiopia

Stunted Children, Stunted Economies: African Leaders Pledge Action on Nutrition

Of the 162 million stunted children in the world, nearly 60 million live in Africa.

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Results Profile

Nepal Sees Child Mortality Drop

The country registered a 48% decline in under-five child mortality over four years.

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World Bank’s Commitment to Reducing Child Mortality

  • FY09: World Bank mobilized more than $3 billion in health financing.
  • FY10: World Bank committed $4.1 billion in support of stronger health systems, disease prevention, and improving child and maternal health.
  • FY10-15: World Bank’s Reproductive Health Action Plan aims to improve odds for women and children in 57 low-income countries.


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