HAVANA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cuba ended 2012 with an infant mortality rate of 4.6 per thousand live births, the lowest in Latin America, the Cuban News Agency reported Thursday.
2012 marked the fifth year in a row that Cuba had kept its infant mortality rate below 5 per thousand, thanks mainly to the government's free universal health care programs, the news agency said.
According to figures from the Public Health Ministry, the country's infant mortality rate was 4.9 in 2011, 4.5 in 2010, 4.8 in 2009 and 4.7 in 2008.
Cuba's central province of Sancti Spiritus registered the lowest rate of 2.8 per thousand live births, while 26 of the country's 168 municipalities ended the year with zero infant mortality.
The ministry also reported a fall in birth rates, with 125,661 babies born in 2012, 7,400 less than the year before.
The latest infant mortality report from the United Nations Children Fund, released in September 2012, shows that Cuba leads the Western Hemisphere, followed by Canada, the United States, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay.