"More children are surviving today than ever before," said Ann Veneman, UNICEF's executive director.
According to new data from the UN Children's Fund, global child deaths fell to 9.7 million in 2005, down from nearly 13 million in 1990, and about 20 million in 1960, when data on under five mortality was first collected.
Much of this decline is the result of widespread adoption in developing countries of basic health interventions, such as early and exclusive breastfeeding; measles immunization; vitamin A supplementation; and the use of insecticide-treated bednets, which curb the spread of malaria.
Because these interventions are just recently being implemented or expanded, a further measurable increase in child survival is anticipated within the next several years, beyond the current figures taken from government household surveys in more than 50 countries conducted in 2005-2006.
In Morocco, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic, UNICEF reported that child death rates dropped by more than a third. In Africa, increased vaccination coverage reduced measles deaths by 75 percent.
"Some of the difficult areas are really in those areas which have been most impacted by HIV/AIDS, and in those areas that continue to be plagued by conflict or are in post-conflict status," Veneman told CBS News.
The highest child mortality rates are found in West and Central Africa, where 186 of every 1,000 children born will die before age 5. For comparison's sake, the child mortality rate in industrialized nations is about 6 per thousand.
Of the 9.7 million child deaths recorded, 3.1 million were in South Asia, 바카라사이트
and 4.8 million were in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there has been significant progress in parts of the region. Under-five mortality has declined 29 per cent between 2000 and 2004 in Malawi. In Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda and Tanzania child mortality rates have declined
by more than 20 per cent.
According to UNICEF, every region has made progress in reducing under-five mortality rate, with the most rapid declines between 1990 and 2006 found in Latin America and the Caribbean; Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States; and East Asia and the Pacific.
Asia has seen significant declines, including China (from 45 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 1990 to 24 per 1,000 in 2006, a reduction of 47 percent) and India (from 115 to 76 per 1,000 in the same period, a reduction of 34 per cent).
Mortality rates in the developing world are much higher among children in rural areas and those in the poorest households.
"We believe at least two-thirds of those who die every year could be saved if they all had equal access to the kind of health care we take for granted," Veneman said.
Health experts agree more needs to be done. "We are not saying we're there yet," said Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF's health chief. "But we're at the tipping point and we need much more investment to succeed," he said.
Salama estimated that the global community would need another $5 billion if the U.N. was to achieve its goal of cutting childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Still, millions of children could be saved without expensive medicines and vaccines, simply by changing their parents' behavior.
"There are lots of things we can do that don't really cost much money at all," said David Oot, associate vice-president of health at Save the Children.
For instance, in India's Uttar Pradesh province, Oot said that the newborn mortality rate was reduced by about 40 percent by teaching mothers how to better care for their babies, including advice about breastfeeding and keeping them warm.
Oot also said that countries could save many more children by investing in training village health workers rather than building new hospitals. "We need to reach children where they are, and most of them are not coming to hospitals," he said.
Also key to child survival
is proper treatment for a range of conditions, from pneumonia, diarrhoeal disease and pediatric HIV/AIDS to the promotion of hygiene and access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
UNICEF said that their survey results showed that many child deaths could be prevented relatively easily, even in developing countries. In Ethiopia, Veneman said that child mortality dropped by about 40 percent after the country trained an army of 30,000 paid health workers to treat people in their own villages.
"We are not yet where we want to be," Veneman said. "But with the things that work, we can make a big difference."