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Estimating child mortality has always been an inexact science because data from so many countries are old, patchy, and unreliableunreliable.. In an attempt to get a clearer picture, researchers did a thorough analysis of all available data from 172 countries, including new sources as well as data collected routinely by the World Health Organization and Unicef.
They found that deaths in children under 5 decreased from 13.5 million (95% uncertainty interval 13.4 to 13.6) in 1980 to an estimated 9.7 million (9.5 to 10.0) in 2005, a slow decline that will miss millennium development targets set for 2015. If trends continue as they are, child mortality will have fallen by only 27% between 1990 and 2015, far short of the 67% set in millennium development goal 4. Despite major international efforts, we don't seem any better at saving children than we were 20 years ago, say the researchers. The trends are particularly disappointing in west, east, and central Africa, where the absolute number of deaths each year has risen by more than a quarter since 1970. By 2015, more than half of all child deaths worldwide will occur in sub-Saharan Africa. This figure was only 19% in 1970.