|Unicef says 6,000 children under the age of 5 die of disease and malnutrition every day
Childhood death rates have halved since 1990 but an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 5 died still last year, the UN children's agency said.
Nearly half of all children who die are in five countries: Nigeria, Congo, India, Pakistan and China, it said in a report.
Anthony Lake, UNICEF's executive director said reducing child deaths is a moral imperative.
The biggest killers are malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, the report said, taking the lives of about 6,000 children under age 5 daily. A lack of nutrition contributes to almost half of these deaths, the UN said.
Eastern and Southern Africa have reduced their death rates for children under five by more than 50 percent since 1990. West and Central Africa are the only regions not to have at least halved the number of children under five dying over the past 22 years, the UN said.
Nigeria bears more than 30 percent of early childhood deaths for malaria and 20 percent of the deaths associated with HIV. Globally, the country accounts for one in every eight child deaths, the U.N. said.
While these numbers are grim, the rate of improvement globally seems to have plateaued at about 4 percent improvement per year since 2005, the report said. The estimated numbers are based on solid data from only about half the world's countries. And for regions with the biggest problems, they had to rely on modeling techniques.
Countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Brazil showed tremendous progress, due in part to increased community health care. Affordable and increased interventions _ like treated mosquito nets, medicines, rehydration treatments and improved access to safe water _ helped improve the early childhood death rate in other countries as well.
But improvements were not as bold in countries like Nigeria, Congo, Sierra Leone and Pakistan, the report showed.—AP