The lives of 48 million children under the age of five have been saved over the pa-15 years as a result of efforts to tackle extreme poverty a-a further 38 million lives could be saved by 2030 if the speed of progress is accelerated-according to a new report from UNICEF.

The UN agency's report-Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed-fou-that since 1990 the rate a-number of deaths of under five-year-olds has been cut by more than half wi-the lives of more than 48 million children saved since 2000 alone.

Bhim Kumari Shrestha carries three-year-old son Himal Shrestha on her back as she collects green vegetable at her own field in Nepal. PICTURE: Narendra Shrestha/UNICEF.

The report shows that while the annual rate of progress in reducing deaths among under fives has increased in recent years - from 1.8 per cent in the 1990s to 3.9 per cent in the 2000 to 2015 period-progress has been patchy wi-only 62 countries having reached the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by two-thirds the deaths of children under five.

But-writing in the report-UNICEF's executive director Anthony Lake says that far too many children still face "vastly different odds of surviving their fir-five years" because of their geographic location-their families" economic status-their race-ethnicity-gender or because they have a disability.

UNICEF estimates that while three million fewer children aged under five will die from infectious diseases this year compared to 2000-5.9 million will still die from what are primarily preventable causes - a figure which equates to 11 every minute.

The report shows that while the annual rate of progress in reducing deaths among under fives has increased in recent years - from 1.8 per cent in the 1990s to 3.9 per cent in the 2000 to 2015 period-progress has been patchy wi-only 62 countries having reached the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by two-thirds the deaths of children under five.

It says that if all countries had reached the MDG target-14 million more lives would have been saved since 2000.

Mo-deaths of under fives are caused by diseases that are preventable. Infectious diseases such as malaria-prematurity a-complications during labour a-delivery the main causes of dea-a-undernutrition remains a factor in nearly half of all under-five deaths. As many as 45 per cent of deaths occur during the period immediately after birth.

Of the world's regions-sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highe-mortality rates of under fives wi-one in every 12 children there dying before their 5-birthday (compared to one in 147 in high income nations). The 10 countries wi-the highe-rates of mortality among under fives are all in Africa a-include Angola-where 157 children out of every 1000 born will die-Chad-Somalia-the Central African Republic-Sierra Leone-Mali-Nigeria-Benin-Democratic Republic of Congo a-Niger. India has the highe-number of under five deaths annually at 1,201,000-accounting for 20 per cent of all deaths of under fives globally.

Back on a global level-the report shows that children from wealthier families-urban households or whose mothers have at lea-secondary education sta-a "far better chance of surviving their early years than children from poorer families-rural households or (who have) mothers without education".

The report has been released ahead of the expected approval of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals - the successor to the eight Millennium Development Goals launched in 2000 which expire this year - by world leaders later this month.

The SDG target for child mortality aims to e-preventable deaths of newborns a-children under five-years-old by 2030 while all countries will aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at lea-as low as 12 per 1,000 live births a-under-five mortality to at lea-as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

The report says that while 94 million children under the age of five will die between 2016 a-2030 if under-five mortality rates remain at today"s levels-accelerating the rate of progress could save the lives of as many as 38 million children.

UNICEF deputy executive director Yoka Brandt says that saving the lives of millions of children "is one of the fir-great achievements of the new millennium - a-one of the bigge-challenges of the next 15 years is to further accelerate this progress". "The data tell us that millions of children do not have to die - if we focus greater effort on reaching every child."

The report's release follows a 2012 initiative in which 178 governments along wi-hundreds of civil society-private sector a-faith-based organisations signed a pledge-known as A Promise Renewed-vowing to do everything possible to stop women a-children from dying of causes that are easily avoidable. Thirty countries have since launched strategies aimed at targeting child mortality.

Head here to download the complete report.