A new UNICEF report, entitled “Pneumonia and Diarrhea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children,” suggests that boosting commitment, attention and funding can help diminish child mortality worldwide.
The UNICEF report foreshadows the launch of a major campaign on child survival in Washington, D.C. during the month of June. The UNICEF campaign will be launched by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States as well as hundreds of leaders from private industry.
“We know what works against pneumonia and diarrhea – the two illnesses that hit the poorest hardest,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, in a press statement. “Scaling up simple interventions could overcome two of the biggest obstacles to increasing child survival, help give every child a fair chance to grow and thrive.”
The statistics on child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea are sobering. The diseases account for nearly 33 percent of the deaths among children under five around the world. Most of the deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea take place in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The UNICEF report says that one of the best ways to protect babies from disease is exclusive breastfeeding. However, less than 40 percent of babies in developing countires are exclusively breastfed.
The UNICEF reports also concludes that innovative ideas help reduce child mortality. Children, for example, are more likely to find child-friendly zinc and amoxicillin tablets easier to take than adult-oriented medicines. Mobile technology has also been used to help health workers reach remote communities that need greater attention.
“Innovation has helped save millions of lives; it can and will save many more,” said Mr. Lake.
The report suggests that more than 2 million of the world’s poorest children could be saved if access to and funding for vaccines and antibiotics is increased. Vaccines that combat the major causes of pneumonia and diarrhea are already available, but poorer countries need to introduce them into routine immunizations programs.
UNICEF hopes that the new campaign will bring needed attention to pneumonia and diarrhea. “Because these are such major killers of children we have to tackle these in a serious way. It’s important to bear one point in mind though, and that is unlike some of the other diseases that have risen to prominence, diarrhea and pneumonia are quite complicated to deal with,” said UNICEF’s Holly Newby, according to Voice of America.
UNICEF works hard to combat a number of issues around the globe. One of the organization’s major focuses is young child survival and development. UNICEF and its many partners spearhead global efforts to decrease child mortality by working together with governments and other organizations to support child survival.