The charity’s Lives on the Line report looked at how 75 countries were tackling the Millennium Development child mortality goals set by the UN in 2000. They included cutting child mortality rates by two thirds by 2015.
The report said the number of children aged under five who died from preventable causes, such as malnutrition or lack of medicine, every year has been almost halved, from 12 million in 1990 – the baseline for the goals – to 6.6 million in 2012.
Twenty-five countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Liberia had already met the child mortality goal, while even those lagging behind, such as Mozambique and Rwanda, had made substantial progress, the charity added.
But the world as a whole was off-target on the goal, the report said, while high mortality rates were becoming increasingly concentrated among the worlds poorest.
For example, West and Central Africa accounted for 17 per cent of all child deaths in 1990, rising to 30 per cent in 2013, most of them occurring in conflict-ridden states.
Four million more children’s lives could also have been saved over the past decade if spending on child mortality was equal across all income groups, said Patrick Watt, Save the Children’s global campaign director.
“We are making historic gains in the fight against child deaths but this headline success also often masks that poor children are being left behind and, in extreme cases, are doing worse,’’ said Watt.
In Bangladesh for example, where child mortality rates have more than halved in the past 10 years, children born into the poorest 40 per cent of the population are twice as likely to die as those born into the richest ten per cent.
The charity said that Niger had made the most “striking” progress, cutting child deaths from 326 for every 1,000 live births in 1990 to 114 deaths per 1,000 in 2012 in spite of scarce resources and recurring droughts.
Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea were the worst performers, said the report, due to low levels of investment in health and nutrition