The child death rate in the Philippines has been reduced by over half in the past two decades to a level below those posted by many other countries, a UNICEF report on Thursday showed.
The Philippines ranked 83rd out of 169 in a global ranking based on child death rates which was part of UNICEF's report dubbed "Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed."
For every 1,000 children born in the Philippines in the Philippines in 2011, only 25 under five years of age died. This is a 55 percent drop from from 57 under-five deaths per 1,000 births in 1990, the report said.
Among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines has the sixth lowest under-five death rate.
The country's performance was topped by that of Singapore, which ranked 3rd globally; Malaysia and Brunei, tied at 7th; Thailand, 12th; and Vietnam, 22nd.
Posting higher under-five death rates, on the other hand, were Myanmar, which ranked 47th globally; Timor-Leste, 51st; Cambodia, 62nd; Lao PDR, 63rd; and Indonesia, 71st.
The Philippines' annual child death reduction rate of 3.8 percent reduction from 1990 to 2011 was also faster than the global average rate of 2.5 percent.
Globally, deaths in children under five have decreased 40 percent to 6.9 million in 2011 from nearly 12 million in 1990, the report said.
The rate of decline also accelerated to an annual 3.2 percent from 2000 to 2011 from 1.8 percent a year in the 1990s.
Although UNICEF lauded this progress, it noted that the current global annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality is "insufficient" to meet the internationally set target of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
It further noted that while global and regional rates have declined, "the burden of child deaths has become alarmingly concentrated in the world’s poorest regions and countries."
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, in particular, accounted for more than 80 percent of the world's under-five deaths in 2011, the report said.
"Four out of 10 cases of under-five deaths occur during the first month of life," UNICEF said.
Diarrhea and malaria are meanwhile the leading killers among children who survive past the first month.
"Globally, infectious diseases account for almost two-thirds of under-five deaths," UNICEF said, adding that many of the children who die are already weakened by undernutrition.
Commenting on the report, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said: "[M]illions of children under five are still dying each year from largely preventable causes for which there are proven, affordable interventions."
These children can be saved with vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care, he added.
"The world has the technology and know-how to do so. The challenge is to make these available to every child," Lake said.
For his part, UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Huzumi said: "In the Philippines we now need to focus our energies on the neonatal period, as this is when 45% of the under five deaths occur.
"We need to ensure these young babies, many of them born too soon, don’t die before they’ve barely had a chance to live," he added.
A UNICEF statement meanwhile highlighted countries' "renewed commitment" to reducing child mortality.
These include ramping up efforts to improve breastfeeding rates, education, access to clean water and adequate sanitation, adequate food, child protection and women’s empowerment, UNICEF said.
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