More must be done to stop babies from dying the day they are born, UN agencies have said after a new report shows that while the number of under five deaths is at a new low globally, the proportion of newborn deaths has risen significantly in the past 16 years.

Released this week, the Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017 report shows that the number of children dying before the age of five dropped from almost 9.9 million in 2000 to 5.6 million in 2016. But it also shows that the proportion of those deaths which involve newborns jumped from 41 to 46 per cent over the same period.

The data - released by the Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) which involves UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA - reveals that some 15,000 under five-year-olds died died every day during 2016, 7,000 of them during the first 15 days of their life.

About eighty per cent of the under five deaths occur in just two regions - Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa - while just six countries - India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and China - account for half of them.

Stefan Swartling Peterson, the UNICEF's chief of health, said that while the lives of 50 million children aged under five have been saved since 2000, "unless we do more to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete".

"We have the knowledge and technologies that are required – we just need to take them where they are most needed," he said.

The report says that if current trends continue, some 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between now and 2030 with half of them newborns. But it notes that a reduction in global inequalities could significantly reduce this figure, showing that if all nations had achieved the average mortality of high income countries, some five million lives could have been saved in 2016 alone.

The report says that ending preventable child deaths can be achieved by improving access to skilled health-professionals during pregnancy and at the time of birth, through lifesaving interventions such as immunisation, breastfeeding and inexpensive medicines, and by increasing access to water and sanitation.