The improved health of children in poor countries is a great example of the power of innovation. In 2008, for the first time fewer than 9 million children under age 5 died. In 2005, the last time the number was measured carefully, it was just below 10 million. This is huge progress, and it is due to improvements like increased vaccinations and better malaria treatment and prevention.
The pie chart to the right shows the primary causes of these deaths. Notice that all deaths for children under 30 days of age are grouped into a single category called “neonatal.” Because the world is making very little progress in reducing these deaths, but is making progress reducing deaths from other causes, the percentage of neonatal deaths has grown to account for more than 40 percent of all deaths in children under 5. If we make the progress we expect in preventing deaths from other causes, and still make no progress in preventing neonatal deaths, they will soon represent 60 percent of all deaths for children under 5.