Five-year-old Senyo (left), who suffers from malnutrition, greets UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham upon his arrival at a therapeutic feeding center in Sierra Leone. [Agencies]
Less than 10 million children younger than five died from disease in 2007 in the best year for infant mortality since detailed studies have been conducted.
Nearly 9.7 million children or more than 26,000 each day die each year before their fifth birthday from diseases from pneumonia to malaria, most from preventable causes, the UN Children's Fund said yesterday.
UNICEF warned that despite recent advances, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East are not on track to meet a United Nations goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, to fewer than 5 million deaths per year.
"The enormity of the challenge should not be under-estimated," the agency said in its annual report, The State of the World's Children.
The toughest climb lies ahead - attempting to boost children's life expectancy in countries ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and plagued by weak governance and poor health systems, UNICEF said.
Sub-Saharan Africa has fared worst since 1990, and now accounts for 49 percent of under-five deaths worldwide but only 22 percent of births.
A child born in the poverty-stricken region has a one-in-six chance of dying before turning five.
Nearly half of the 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have had either stable or worsening child mortality rates since 1990, the report said.
Only three - Cape Verde, Eritrea and the Seychelles - are on track to meet the 2015 child survival goal.
"There is no room for complacency," said UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman.
Cape Verde: 佛得角(非洲塞内加尔西部的岬角)
Eritrea: 厄立特里亚 (埃塞俄比亚北部靠红海的一个地区)
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）