About 9.7M Children Die Annually From Preventable Diseases

Armen Hareyan's picture

About 9.7 million childrenworldwide under age five die annually from preventable and treatable causes,including HIV/AIDS, according to a UNICEF report released on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

According to the report, titled "The State of the World's Children2008," although the annual number of deaths among children under age fiveis below 10 million for the first time, more than 26,000 children worldwidestill die daily. Nearly half of sub-Saharan African countries have had eitherstable or worsening rates of child mortality since 1990, and only threesub-Saharan African countries -- Cape Verde, Eritrea and Seychelles -- are ontrack to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals' target for child survival,according to the report (Nebehay, Reuters, 1/22). The goal callsfor reducing by two-thirds the 1990 child mortality rate by 2015, according to BBC News (BBC News, 1/22). According tothe report, the current rate must be reduced by 50% to meet the target(Engeler, AP/Google.com, 1/23).

The report found that in Sierra Leone,270 children of every 1,000 die before age five, compared with three childrenper 1,000 in the best-performing countries, including Singapore and Sweden (BBC News,1/22). The child mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africahas decreased by 14% since 1990, and the region contains 28 of the 30 countrieswith the highest child mortality rates, the report said (AP/Google.com, 1/23).


The report also found that inadequate progress on child survival has been madein the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.Mortality rates in East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean have almost halved to 27 deaths per 1,000 livebirths, meaning these regions are on track to meet MDG targets, according tothe reports.


According to the report,child mortality could be reduced through "simple, reliable and affordableinterventions" that are "readily available" and have the"potential to save two-thirds of the children currently at risk."Such interventions include breastfeeding, providing immunizations anddistributing insecticide-treated nets. Obstacles to implementing theinterventions include disease-specific approaches to health care in developingcountries, the low profile of maternal and child health, inadequate financingand a lack of political will, the report found (BBC News, 1/22).In addition, there are challenges associated with efforts to increasechildren's life expectancies in countries highly affected by HIV/AIDS that haveweak health systems (Reuters, 1/22).

The report adds that more needs to be done to increase access to treatment forHIV/AIDS and other diseases, including malaria and pneumonia. Inaddition, the report calls for:

  • Collaboration with community-based groups;
  • Integrated health systems;
  • Mainstreaming of maternal, newborn and child health into national strategic planning programs; and
  • Improved quality and increased, predictable funding (UNICEF release, 1/22).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.