In 2007, across the world, almost nine million children under the age of 5 died. This is, of course, a very high figure but one that has begun to fall. For the second consecutive year, infant mortality has remained below the symbolic threshold of 10 million deaths.
To recall, in the early 1990s more than 12.5 million children died each year before reaching their fifth birthday. According to World Heath Organization (WHO) estimates, this death toll has therefore dropped by 27% over the course of the last twenty years.
Nevertheless, this result remains relative. In many developing countries, African countries in particular, there has been insufficient progress to reach the Millennium Development Goals, i.e., to reduce infant mortality by two thirds by the year 2015.
But the WHO has reason to remain hopeful, explaining that this current drop in mortality illustrates the fact that we can achieve fixed objectives by strengthening the health systems of the most disadvantaged countries.
This depends largely on the distribution of insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets to combat malaria and access to oral rehydration salts against diarrhoea. Not forgetting, of course, the need for better access to vaccines and improved water supply in certain countries.