The maps that track death and disease across the world aren’t usually uplifting. But a new map from the Pulitzer Center tells a different kind of story, one that actually marks a set of enormous, but quiet, wins for decreasing the rate of childhood mortality.
Global childhood mortality rates have plummeted since 1990, according to a recent UNICEF "State of the World’s Children" report. The human rights organization estimated that 90 million more children would have died today had significant progress not been made in immunization coverage, primary school enrollment, and improved sanitation. The Pulitzer Center map, designed by Dan McCarey, toggles back between child death hotspots between 1990 and 2012, showing significant decreases across Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
One of the biggest success stories is in Bangladesh, a country that decreased its childhood mortality rate by 72%, attributable largely to the increase in breast-feeding over breast milk substitutes.
There’s still a long way to go. As the UNICEF report notes, 15% of the world’s children are laborers, and 11% of girls are married before they’re 15 years old. And severe geographic disparities remain. Sierra Leone, for example, still has one of the highest neonatal death rates in the world, with one newborn death out of every 20. In sub-Saharan Africa more broadly, one in 10 children die before they turn five.
All the more reason to keep the investments going.