The latest report released by UNICEF shows India had the highest number of deaths of children under five years of age in 2011. This has happened despite the government's efforts to improve maternal and child health.
The report, released Thursday in New York, says almost 19,000 children less than five years of age die every day across the world. India tops the list of countries for 2011, with the highest number of such deaths at 16.55 lakh.
Even as overall child mortality in the world has gone down, under-five deaths are increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In 2011, 82 percent of under-five deaths occurred in these two regions, up from 68 percent in 1990.
Though on the top of list in terms of absolute numbers, in terms of child mortality rate, India ranks 49th with 61 deaths per thousand children in 2011. Sierra Leone has the highest child mortality rate of 185 per thousand.
On the positive side, however, the report shows that the overall number of under-five deaths worldwide has decreased from nearly 12 million in 1990 to less than 7 million in 2011, and the rate of the decline has been steadily increasing.
"The rate of decline in under-five mortality has drastically accelerated in the last decade - from 1.8 percent per year during the 1990s to 3.2 percent per year between 2000 and 2011," the report says.