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In his speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, stated: "Georgia achieved Millennium Development Goal number four – the mortality rate of infants and children under the age of five years has dropped by 10 and 12 points per every thousand children."

FactCheck

took interest in the Prime Minister’s statement and verified its accuracy.

Considering the principal challenges for world development, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration at its Millennium Summit in September 2000. UN member states (including Georgia) agreed to set eight millennium development goals to be achieved by 2015:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  2. Achieve universal primary education;
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women;
  4. Reduce child mortality;
  5. Improve maternal health;
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
  7. Ensure environmental stability;
  8. Develop a global partnership for development.

According to Georgia’s 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report (pages 38-40), the mortality rate for children under the age of five years dropped significantly after 2000. Demographic statistics for 2000 (based upon data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia) indicate that the mortality rate for children under the age of five years was 24.9 permille (one tenth of one percent) per one thousand children (meaning that there were 25 deaths per every thousand children) whilst in 2013 this number dropped to 13 permille. According to the data of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health, the mortality rate for children under the age of five years was 27.2 permille per thousand children whilst in 2013 that number was 13 permille. Even though the data of the aforementioned demographic statistics and health statistics do not fully match with each other, both statistical sources indicate the trend of a decreasing mortality rate for children under the age of five years (see Graph 1).

Graph 1: 

Mortality Rate Indicators for Children under the Age of Five Years

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The trend of a decreasing mortality rate for children was kept in place throughout 2014 as well. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the mortality rate for children under the age of five years was 10.9 permille per one thousand children in 2014 which means that the number dropped by 1.1 points as compared to 2013. At the same time, the infant mortality rate was 9.5 permille which was 1.6 points less as compared to 2013 and 6.3 points less as compared to 2006.

Georgia’s 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report presents those government programmes which facilitated the decrease in the mortality rate of children. A set of reforms has been implemented in the country since2000 which has had a positive impact upon lowering the mortality rate of children. These programmes include the National Immunisation Programme which envisages preventive annual vaccinations. Of additional note arethe Mother and Child Healthcare Programme and other state programmes for childcare. An insurance programme for children up to the age of five years was launched in September 2012, later merging with the Universal Healthcare Programme.

The aforementioned report also notes that: "Infant mortality constitutes the greatest part of child mortality in total with the situation having remained the same in this regard since 2000."

According to the UNICEF’s 2015 report,

the mortality rate of children was 36 permille per one thousand children in 2000 whilst the number dropped to 12 permille in 2015. According to the Millennium Development Goals, Georgia was required to reduce the country’s mortality rate of children to 16 permille by 2015. Therefore, Georgia did achieve Millennium Development Goal number four.

Conclusion

In 2000, Georgia joined the UN Millennium Development Declaration which, together with other obligations by 2015, also envisages a drop in the mortality rate of children under the age of five years.

According to Georgia’s 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report and the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the mortality rate for children under the age of five years has dropped significantly since 2000. In 2000, the mortality rate for children under the age of five years was 24.9 permille per one thousand children whilst this number was 10.9 permille in 2014. Therefore, the number dropped by 14 points. The rate of infant mortality has also significantly dropped.

According to UNICEF’s 2015 report, Georgia was required to decrease the country’s mortality rate for children to 16 permille by 2015 as foreseen by the Millennium Development Goals. As of 2015, the number is 12 permille per every one thousand children. Therefore, all of the existing statistical data prove that Georgia has reached Millennium Development Goal number four which is a decrease in the mortality rate of children.

It is indeed true that Georgia’s infant mortality and mortality rate for children under the age of five years has decreased significantly. However, according to Georgia’s 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report, infant mortality is the major part of child mortality, in general, in Georgia and the situation in this regard has remained the same since 2000.

FactCheck concludes that the Prime Minister’s statement is TRUE.