April 13, 2013


Beating the Child Killers (Seth Berkley, Apr. 12, 2013, Project Syndicate)

An ambitious new plan, called the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea, launched this month by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, aims to step up existing interventions and pool global efforts, with the goal of reducing the number of deaths from pneumonia to less than three children per 1,000, and of diarrhea-related deaths to below one in 1,000. This would effectively end the preventable deaths of more than two million children every year.

For any other infectious disease or global health threat, achieving this kind of reduction in incidence rate and mortality would be nothing short of miraculous. Yet, for pneumonia and diarrhea, we have every reason to believe that we can succeed, because we already know what works.

For example, infants who are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months have a ten-fold increase in the risk of death from diarrhea, and are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia. Similarly, basic sanitation, such as improved hand washing and access to clean water, and better nutrition can also produce significant risk reduction, much of which can be achieved through simple education programs.

Immunization is also highly effective. Vaccinating children against rotavirus, for example, can protect them from a pathogen that is responsible for 37% of all diarrhea deaths in children under five, thus saving 450,000 lives every year. Similarly, vaccines exist to protect against pneumococcal disease, which accounts for a half-million pneumonia-related deaths annually.

...consists of nutrition, hygiene, and vaccines.

Posted by at April 13, 2013 7:04 AM

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