Child mortality figures published – glass half-full or half empty?

Are you a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person? I’m definitely the ‘half-full’ type. You’ll not find many pictures of miserable children on this blog, I prefer to take an optimistic approach and think that it’s better to ‘look on the bright side’.

However, I find I just can’t be a ‘glass half-full’ person when confronted with the latest figures on child mortality published last week (13/9/13). They are grim quite frankly. That hasn’t stopped others being enthusiastic: Child deaths halved since 1990 was the most common headline that went with these figures.

“This trend is a positive one. Millions of lives have been saved,”
said Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director.

“And we can do still better. Most of these deaths can be prevented, using simple steps that many countries have already put in place — what we need is a greater sense of urgency.”

You bet. Let’s look at the figures.

Child mortality table 130913

These are the points that stand out for me:

  1. Developed regions are likely to hit the MDG target for reducing child mortality while developing regions are not.
  2. Getting these results in the developed regions will have required huge resources as child mortality in 1990 was already relatively low – less than a third of what it is in developing regions today . . . 22 years later.
  3. The gap has widened between developed and developing regions. In 1990 if you were born in a developing region you were 6.6 times more likely to die before your 5th birthday the figure now is 8.8.
  4. Northern Africa as done well and will meet the MDG but the mortality rate here is four times as high as developed regions.
  5. Sub-Saharan Africa has not done well with almost 1 in 10 children dying before their 5th birthday in 2012

The headline: Child deaths halved since 1990 is a great ‘glass half-full’ statement but hides the fact that the aim of the MDG was to reduce child mortality by two-thirds, not a half, and presumably we were aiming for at least a modicum of equity which we have not achieved. In fact what we see is widening inequality. There is absolutely no room for complacency here.

And to finish off, and lest we forget, let me leave you with a shocking picture. This is the picture which accompanied a blog post on They took the glass half-empty approach in their report and pointed out that Angola has the second highest child mortality in the world at 16%.

We have the solutions, we just need to deliver them and that is what ColaLife is all about. Delivery.