FIJI'S infant mortality rate has significantly reduced from 30 in 1990 to 17 in 2010 out of every 1000 children below the age of five.
This is according to The State of the World Children's Report 2012 released by the United Nation's Children's Fund in February this year.
And confirming the figures, the Ministry of Health said the reduction in mortality rate was also a result of immunisation against nine childhood diseases, better screening programs and proper nutrition for infants and young children.
"The recognition by the community of the importance of earlier first visits in pregnancy, that is in the first three months, improved nutrition in women of child-bearing age and birth preparedness as having an impact on the life of the new-born have also contributed," ministry spokeswoman Dr Frances Bingwor said.
Dr Bingwor said three major improvements had taken place in the areas of strengthening of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses leading to earlier interventions, robust clinical training in paediatrics and maternal health, enhancements of training opportunities in obstetrics, and child health and outreach services by specialists to rural areas.
And as the country joined the rest of the world to mark the Global Handwashing Day on Monday, UNICEF Pacific representative Dr Isiye Ndombi said: "600,000 children under five in 2011 died globally than in 2008 when the first year Global Handwashing Day was celebrated."
Global Handwashing Day shared its fifth birthday with more than 121 million children who also turn five this year, he said.
The ministry together with support from UNICEF, Colgate Palmolive and Live and Learn, marked the event at Dilkusha Girls School in Nausori.