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By Guest Expert

How many children did not die thanks to progress in global health?

Declining death rates among children have been one of humanity’s most important achievements.

Across the world, countries have dramatically reduced child mortality.

I think we should celebrate this extraordinary achievement, using it as encouragement to reduce child mortality further.

But it can seem hard to celebrate something that is not happening.

So, I wanted to turn things around.

Rather than focusing on the absence of child deaths, I want to highlight the presence of people who are here today thanks to the progress in global health.

To make the millions who were saved by progress in global health visible, I am asking a simple question: how many more children would have died if the global child mortality rate had not declined?

To answer this question, we have to pick a baseline.

Let’s start in 1990.

If I had gone back further in time, this figure would have been even higher because the rate of child mortality was much higher in the past.

The chart shows the answer.

How Many More Children

A generation ago, in 1990, the global child mortality rate was 9.3%.

The dashed purple line shows the number of children who would have died if the mortality rate had stayed constant.

More than 12 million children would have died every year.

The actual number of child deaths declined to 5 million per year.

This is shown by the dark red line.

This was achieved because the global mortality rate of children declined to 3.7% in 2021.

The difference between the two lines shows us how many more children would have died if the world had made no progress.

In total, 132 million more children would have died across these 31 years.

In short, thanks to progress in global health since 1990, 132 million more people are alive in our world today.

Guest author is Max Roser, Founder and Executive Co-Director of Our World in Data. You can read the original article here

About Guest Expert Apart from our regular team of experts, we frequently publish commentary from guest contributors who are authorities in their field.
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