MDG 4: reduce child mortality

Updated September 2013

Target 4.A: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Group of children


6.6 million children under five died in 2012. Almost 75% of all child deaths are attributable to just six conditions: neonatal causes, pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS. The aim is to further cut child mortality by two thirds by 2015 from the 1990 level.

Reaching the MDG on reducing child mortality will require universal coverage with key effective, affordable interventions: care for newborns and their mothers; infant and young child feeding; vaccines; prevention and case management of pneumonia, diarrhoea and sepsis; malaria control; and prevention and care of HIV/AIDS. In countries with high mortality, these interventions could reduce the number of deaths by more than half.

WHO strategies

To deliver these interventions, WHO promotes four main strategies:

  • appropriate home care and timely treatment of complications for newborns;
  • integrated management of childhood illness for all children under five years old;
  • expanded programme on immunization;
  • infant and young child feeding.

These child health strategies are complemented by interventions for maternal health, in particular, skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth.

Related links

Corporate resources