The most recent estimate, in 2006, revealed that close to 9.7 million children died before their fifth birthday. Over the last 46 years the annual number of child deaths has halved from around 20 million in 1960 to less than 10 million in 2006.

However, there is still much to be done to meet Millenium Development Goal 4, which is to reduce the global rate of under 5 child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. To achieve this, the rate of under 5 child mortality still needs to be cut in half.

“Undernutrition is the main underlying factor for up to half of all deaths of children under 5” (State of the World’s Children 2008, UNICEF, 2007)

Improving maternal and child nutrition is a prerequisite for achieving Millenium Development Goal 4. Whilst the prevalence of underweight in children under 5 has decreased since 1990, the rate of reduction must accelerate.

Current estimates by WHO suggest that about 1 million children die every year from severe acute malnutrition (WHO, WFP, SCN & UNICEF, 2007).

The prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition is therefore of great global significance. Find out in these pages about progress in the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition regionally and in specialist areas. Also find links to monitoring and evaluation data.