The under five mortality rate declined by 21% from 168 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 132 death per 1,000 live births in 2008. However, the rate of progress being made is insufficient to attain this target at the continental level. This is because Africa as a whole has the highest percentage (66%) of children under-five who are not registered at birth. African countries should intensify a credible system of civil registration system in order to improve health information system.
The WHO report in 2010 shows that the major causes of under-five mortality in Africa as at 2008, are diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and HIV. Overall, if the current trends continue, the continent as a whole is unlikely to meet the goal of reducing under –five mortality by 2015.
At the sub-regions levels, North Africa has made the most tremendous progress of 42%. Followed by East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa at the rate of 26%, 24% and 20%, respectively. Although, these progress depends critically on the efforts made in the most populous countries within each sub regions. When these populous countries are taken out of the sub regional analysis North Africa still retains its position as the best performer followed by West Africa (when Nigeria is excluded).
On the other hand, the infant mortality rate shows a declining trend in most African countries between 1990 and 2008. Mozambique recorded the greatest decline in IMR while Kenya was the worst performer followed by Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cha, and Lesotho. Of the six worst performing countries, two are in central Africa and three are in southern Africa.
High IMR in central Africa could be attributed to political conflict and the prevalence of malaria in the sub-region. In a bid to reduce child mortality, one of the measures taken is to immunize children against measles. Thirteen countries reported an immunization rate of 90% or above, while only two countries are below 50% coverage.
The revolution in North Africa and famine in the horn of Africa worsens the child mortality on the continent. African leaders and development partners must rise to the occasion to save the continent.
Summary of the ‘Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals MDG Report 2010′ on MDG3 by Ayodele Doyinsola, edited by Biodun Awosusi.