The Saddest Record

About 5.9 million children under the age of five died in 2015, according to UNICEF. This means that last year, every minute, 11 children died. Although most developing countries have decreased their child mortality rate in the last decade, sub-Saharan Africa still faces a major challenge: the area's infant mortality rate is 15 times higher than the average for developed regions. Diarrhoea and pneumonia are two of the main causes of child mortality.

Hover over each country in the map to see the rate of infant mortality* in 2015 for children under five. Click on each country to see how the rate has changed in the last 15 years.

*UNICEF defines infant mortality rate as the "probability of dying between birth and exactly 5 years of age, expressed per 1,000 live births."

Who ranks the worst

Click on the button below to see which ten sub-Saharan African countries have the highest infant mortality rate according to specific diseases or injuries.

A declining process

Only in 2013, 1,5 million children under five years old died because of diarrhea and pneumonia. 71% of the deaths were in 15 countries, according to the International Vaccine Access Center. Despite its deadly impact, infant mortality due to diarrhoea and pneumonia has decreased in the last decade.

This graphic shows 15 countries with the highest infant mortality rate and the evolution since 2000. Pneumonia is included in all respiratory infections.

Water and treatment

According to UNICEF, factors as the use of improved water or some kind of treatments* can help to reduce the infant mortality rate provoked by diarrhoea and pneumonia. Who has access to the water? Who is receiving those treatments?

*In the case of diarrhoeal diseases, the ORS is the most common treatment. It reduces the effects and helps children to absorb water and protects them from future episodes.


The oral rehydration salts (ORS) treatment reduces the effects of diarrhoea. It helps the children to absorb water and protects them from future episodes.


UNICEF gathers data on how many children suspected pneumonia are taken to a health care provider.

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The future

During the last decades almost 70% "of all countries have at least halved their rates of under-five mortality." What could happen now? According to UNICEF, if the mortality rates keep like in 2015, "94 million children under the age of 5 will die over the next 15 years." But what if it changes? With investment, resources, and achieving the SDG target, 38 million of those 94 could survive.