Unicef: Brazil’s child mortality rate sees historic decline

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is now 30 years old

Published in 27/11/2019 - 18:29 By Letycia Bond - São Paulo

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) is holding a session at the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo today (Nov. 27) to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The agency put together a report crediting Brazil for having improved rates such as mortality, child labor, and school exclusion over the years. The impact of the initiatives implemented by the federal and state governments has been countrywide.

From 1990 to 2017, the data show a “historic reduction” in the total of deaths among children younger than one year old. In the period, the national rate plunged from 47.1 to 13.4 in every one thousand babies born alive.

However, the decline in vaccine coverage, Unicef warns, has been a pathway for diseases previously considered eradicated, like measles. “In 2016, child mortality rose for the first time in over 20 years and still has not gone back to 2015 levels, which lights up a warning alert. Altogether, 42 thousand children aged five and younger still die in Brazil every year,” the report reads.


The high number of adolescents killed is another issue mentioned in the document. Unicef notes that the total amount of cases more than doubled from 1990 to 2007.

“From 1996 to 2017, 191 thousand children and adolescents aged 10 through 19 fell victims to homicide,” the authors of the report wrote, adding that an average of 32 boys and girls in this age group are murdered everyday.

In São Paulo state, for instance, in the ten-year span ending in 2017, the document says, 8,200 children and youths in this age range were murdered. The rate reached 9.7 homicides for every 100 thousand people two years ago. Over 1 million minors are estimated to live in areas affected by armed violence in the city of São Paulo.


Another challenge listed in the report is the access children and adolescents are given to education. According to Unicef, the country “was able to make significant strides,” in this field.

“In 1990, nearly 20 percent of children aged 7 through 14 (the age group to which education was mandatory at the time) were out of school. In 2009, the mandatory age range was expanded to 4 through 17. In 2017, 4.7 percent of children and adolescents aged 4 through 17 were out of school.”

Even though school exclusion decreased sharply, Unicef specialists believe, the country has not met the goal of offering education to all. Altogether, nearly 2 million boys and girls are out of school.

Immigrants and mental health

To Unicef’s judgment, another item that should be part of the agenda of authorities seeking to protect the rights of children and adolescents relates to offering shelter to refugees. Of the approximately 200 thousand Venezuelans who entered the country by July, 30 percent were underage.

Suicide is also discussed in the report as one of the contemporary issues demanding attention. “In the last ten years, suicide among children and adolescents has increased in Brazil. They went from 714 in 2007 to 1,047 in 2017.”

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Narjara Carvalho / Nira Foster

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