Every five seconds a child dies from preventable causes, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The report, co-authored by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group, found that in total, an estimated 6.3 million children under 15 died in 2017from preventable causes. Timothy Evans, senior director at the World Bank Group called it “a cost we simply can’t afford.”

The vast majority of those deaths—5.4 million—happened to children under the age of five. Newborns who died from complications during childbirth made up approximately half of those deaths.

“Millions of babies and children should not still be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services,” said Dr. Princess Nono Simelela, assistant director-general for family, women and children’s health at WHO, in a press release.

Simelela says that “quality health services for every child,” from a child’s birth to early childhood could give them the best chance to live.

“For children, very simple diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea are the main sources of death,” Mark Hereward, associate director at UNICEF told CTV News Channel Tuesday. He added that over the years, “we’ve been making progress.”

“The solution is technically not complicated… many of the solutions are technologically simple,” he said, suggesting that outreach programs, immunization programs and local health groups are making the biggest impact.


Globally, half of all deaths of children under the five years of age, took place in sub-Saharan Africa, with another 30 per cent occurring in South Asia.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 children died before their fifth birthday. While in high-income countries, that number was 1 in 185.

In their first month, a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia was nine times more likely to die than a baby born in a high-income country.

In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month.

The number of deaths of children under five has fallen dramatically from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017.