An analysis in The Lancet updates previous estimates of progress on the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The experts predict that no country in sub-Saharan Africa will meet the goals to dramatically reduce deaths by 2015. But they say progress is speeding up in most countries.

The targets were set by world leaders in 2000. MDG4 aims to reduce the death rate for children aged under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, while MDG5 states an ambition to cut deaths among pregnant women and new mothers by three-quarters during the same timescale.

The researchers from Seattle estimate there were 7.2m infant deaths around the world in the past year - compared with 11.6m in 1990. With China, Rwanda and Botswana being praised for "substantial acceleration" in tackling child mortality in the past decade.

<i>By Jane Dreaper


For more information on the MDGs, please visit the United Nations website.</i>