Bangladesh Halves Child Mortality Rate

20/9/2010 - Bangladesh has halved its child mortality rate and is on track to reach the goal of a two-thirds reduction from 1990 levels by 2015. For this, the UN has presented it with an award of recognition.

Today, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with an award during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit in New York. The award was presented in recognition of the immense progress that Bangladesh has made in reducing child mortality. This represents a significant milestone in the country's road to bettering child well-being.

The eight MDGs are the benchmarks for development set by the United Nations in 2000. They provide a guiding framework with specific targets for speeding up poverty reduction in the Global South. They are:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme Poverty and Hunger
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality Rate
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Since 1990, the number of under-five deaths has declined dramatically.  In 1990, the child mortality rate was 146 deaths per thousand live births. Today, it is 54 per thousand. Given these successes, the outlook for Bangladesh meeting the target of a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015 (about 48 deaths per thousand live births) is good. The country is currently averaging a 2% annual rate of reduction in its child mortality rate.

Part of the reason for these improvements is that the number of chronically food insecure people in the country has fallen from 40 million to 27 million. Sheikh Hasina’s government has been instrumental, halving child mortality since it came into power, according to local media reports.

That said, Bangladesh – after China and India – has the largest number of hungry people in the world. Food insecurity persists mostly owing to high global grain prices, poverty and growing income inequality, as well as the lingering effects of Cyclone Aila (which damaged crop and livelihoods since 2009). In particular, the rate of malnutrition continues to be high at 50%, despite impressive improvements to child health.

During her acceptance speech, Hasina was appreciative of the recognition her country received. “This gesture is particularly encouraging to us as we have been sparing no efforts in achieving all the MDGs by 2015 despite the adverse impacts of the recent global economic crisis, global warming and climate change,” she said.

The UN Summit began today and will conclude on Wednesday, September 22.