The illnesses killing 1.4 million children every year


More than 1.4 million children worldwide are dying from preventable illnesses every year, according to a Unicef report.
Even though there have been marked improvements in health conditions in recent years, death rates among the under fives are still a huge cause for concern.
While illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhoea are usually only dangerous to the very old, very young and those already ill in much of the western world, in other parts of the globe, they kill large numbers of children.
Most common in Asia and Africa, pneumonia and diarrhea top the cause of death list.
Pneumonia killed nearly a million children in 2015 alone. That is one child every 35 seconds. The lung infection kills more than malaria, TB, measles and AIDs combined.
Unicef Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye said that air pollution linked to climate change was partly to blame; by causing respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
There are two billion children living in areas where air pollution is in excess of international guidelines.
Ms Ndiaye is urging world leaders to commit to reducing air pollution as well as investing more money into preventative healthcare.
The countries with the highest rate of child mortality, with 3.6 million of 5.9 million deaths are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, China, Angola, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Tanzania.
Even though death rates are falling, the deadline of cutting the number of under fives dying by two-thirds by 2015 has not been met.
Lead study author Li Liu from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said problems persisted because progress was uneven across the globe.
Li Liu added: “Substantial progress is needed for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia to achieve the child survival target of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Researchers are now urging governments to make sure that cost-effective solutions such as the encouragement of breastfeeding and better water supply and sanitation become the focus. They also want to make sure that vaccines are available for pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea.
Ms Ndiaye said: “These illnesses have such a disproportionately high impact on child mortality and are relatively inexpensive to treat. Yet they continue to receive only a fraction of global health investment which makes absolutely zero sense.
“That’s why we’re calling for increased global funding for protective, preventive and treatment interventions that we know will work to save children’s lives.”