UNITED NATIONS - The number of children who die before the age of five has fallen drastically in the past decade, amid gains in health care, education, development programmes and economic progress, according to a new U.N. report.The report released on Thursday by the United nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows less than seven million kids under age five died last year, compared to nearly 12 million in 1990.The countries with the biggest decline in mortality rates include Laos, East Timor, Liberia, Bangladesh and Rwanda.  Collectively, countries in East Asia and Latin America cut their rates by more than half.But the report says much more must still be done to meet a worldwide goal of reducing deaths by another 43 percent by 2015.  The United Nations says almost 19,000 children under five die every day. Higher mortality rates persist in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  Preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria account for many of the deaths.Half of all under-five deaths occurred in five countries: Pakistan, India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and China, according to the report, which also finds that India and Nigeria account for more than a third of all under-five deaths worldwide.  “Proven solutions need to be expanded to accelerate progress on child survival faster and farther,” according to a news release on the annual report of the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN-IGME).Formed in 2004, the UN-IGME is made up of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the UN Department of Development and Social Affairs (DESA) and the World Bank. Its activities include sharing data on child mortality and improving methods for child mortality estimation reporting on progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight goals agreed upon by world leaders in 2000 to slash extreme poverty and other global ills.The UN-IGME said that gains in child survival, although significant, are still insufficient to achieve the fourth MDG, which calls for reducing the global under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.Only six of the world’s 10 regions are on track to reach the target. Worldwide, an estimated 19,000 children still died every day in 2011, with around 40 per cent in the first month of life and most from preventable causes.The report calls for systematic action to reduce neonatal mortality. “Highly cost-effective interventions are feasible even at the community level,” stated UN-IGME, which advocates expanding preventative and curative interventions that target the main causes of infant mortality.Globally, it notes, the leading causes of death among children under five are pneumonia, pre-term birth complications, diarrhoea, complications during birth and malaria.Reporting on progress, the report says that rates of child mortality have fallen in all regions of the world in the last two decades – down by at least 50 per cent in Eastern Asia, Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-eastern Asia and Western Asia.Between 2000 and 2011, the annual rate of reduction in the global under-five mortality rate jumped to 3.2 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent in 1990-2000. Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the greatest challenge in child survival, has doubled its rate of reduction, from 1.5 per cent per year in the years 1990-2010, to 3.1 per cent in the period from 2000-2011.However, the report cautions, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia still account for more than 80 per cent of global under-five deaths. Their disparity with other regions is becoming more marked as regions such as Eastern Asia and Northern Africa have cut child deaths by more than two thirds since 1990, it notes.