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UNICEF lists pneumonia, diarrhea as top killers of children worldwide

A NEW report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has identified pneumonia and diarrhea as the two primary killers of children under the age of five.

The new UNICEF report titled: “Pneumonia and diarrhea: tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children” identified a tremendous opportunity to narrow the child survival gap both among and within countries by increasing commitment, attention and funding.

According to the report, pneumonia and diarrhea account for nearly one-third of the deaths among children under five globally, or more than two million lives each year; and nearly 90 per cent of deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The report said the prevention and treatments for both diseases often overlap, and include such basic steps as: increasing vaccine coverage; encouraging breastfeeding and hand-washing with soap; expanding access to safe drinking water and sanitation; and disseminating oral rehydration salts to children with diarrhea and antibiotics to children with bacterial pneumonia.

The UNICEF report was issued shortly before the launch of a major global initiative on child survival in Washington, D.C., United States, on June 14 to 15. This would be convened by the governments of the Ethiopia, India and the United States with 700 leaders and global experts from government, the private sector and civil society.

UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said: “We know what works against pneumonia and diarrhea – the two illnesses that hit the poorest hardest. 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.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF Executive Director said that a more transparent and competitive market will lead to savings of more than N3.4 billion (US$20) million over the next 12 months through a price reduction of 20 per cent for bed nets that protect people from malaria.

According to UNICEF Supply’s Annual Report 2011, the price of an insecticide-treated, long-lasting bed net has dropped to under N465 ($3), and this reduction followed projected cost savings and cost avoidances for vaccines and child survival supplies worth a total of N114 billion (US$735 million) in the coming years.



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