The UN released a major new report today showing immense progress in the fight against child mortality. According to the report, global child mortality is down by almost half since 1990.  The report found that in 2012, about 6.6 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday. This is down from 12 million under-five deaths in 1990.

Researchers found that half of deaths are largely concentrated in just a few countries: China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. India and Nigeria alone account for more than one third of the globe’s under-five mortality.

The findings of the report are a mixed bag. On the one hand,  the average annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality accelerated from 1.2% a year for the period 1990-1995 to 3.9% for 2005-2012. But on the other hand, at current pace we will not it reach Millennium Development Goal 4 which aims to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

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From a purely tactical perspective, if we are to reach the MDG it’s clear that the international community needs to focus its efforts on those five countries where half of these deaths occur. The key question is whether or not the international community has the wherewithal to do so and sprint to the MDG finish line.