Nigeria has taken over from India as the world capital for under-five deaths, according to the 2020 mortality estimates released by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The development comes two years earlier than the World Bank projected.
The global bank had said in 2018 that Nigeria will take over India as the world capital for deaths of children under the age of five by 2021.
According to World Bank figures, India recorded an estimated 989,000 under-five deaths in 2017, while Nigeria recorded 714,000 deaths in the same year.
UNICEF, in the report titled Levels and Trends in Child Mortality, said Nigeria recorded an estimated average of 858,000 under-five deaths in 2019 as against India which ranked second with 824,000 deaths out of 5.2 million under-five deaths globally.
The report, which covered a period of three decades–1990 to 2019–added that 49 percent of all under-five deaths in 2019 occurred in just five countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
“Nigeria and India alone account for almost a third,” it said.
India has at least six times the population of Nigeria.
The report said under-five mortality rates have declined by almost 60 percent since 1990. However, the UN expressed concerns that “the potential of a mortality crisis in 2020 threatens years of remarkable improvement in child and adolescent survival”.
“While the extent and severity of the mortality impact of COVID-19 on children and youth is still unknown, the potential of a mortality crisis in 2020 threatens years of remarkable improvement in child and adolescent survival from 1990 to 2019, the period covered in this report,” it read.