MDG 4: reduce child mortality

Updated May 2015

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

Group of children


Globally, the number of deaths of children under 5 years of age fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013. The first 28 days of life – the “neonatal period” – represent the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. In 2013, around 44% of under-five deaths occurred during this period, up from 37% in 1990.

Reaching the MDG on reducing child mortality will require more rapid scale up of 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.

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

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Corporate resources