Technology & Science

Thousands of children still dying daily from preventable diseases: report

Preventable diseases kill 29,000 children under the age of five every day around the world, says a report released Wednesday by UNICEF Canada.

Preventable diseases kill 29,000 children under the age of five every day around the world, says a report released Wednesday by UNICEF Canada.

Child mortality rates have actually increased in 14 countries, including nine in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly because of HIV/AIDS, the report said.

Globally, 10.6 million children are still dying from preventable causes every year.

"The fundamental difference between now and five decades ago is that we have the knowledge and proven cost-effective technologies to prevent and treat these childhood threats – including pneumonia, diarrhoeal disease, malaria and measles – yet these are still the leading causes of preventable death for the world's children," said Nigel Fisher, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada.

More political will and action is needed "to bring these diseases to their knees and break the back of the HIV/AIDS pandemic," he added in a release.

In 1955, 210 in every 1,000 children born worldwide died before age five, compared to 79 per 1,000 today.

But in some developing countries, child death rates were above 200 per 1,000 this year, Fisher said.

Causes include:

  • Pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections kill approximately two million children every year, making it the leading cause of death of children under five years of age.
  • Diarrhoeal disease kills 1.6 million children every year, primarily by causing severe dehydration that can quickly result in organ failure in young children.
  • Malaria kills 3,000 African children every day, making it the largest cause of death for children under five on the continent. Persistent anemia, lifelong brain damage or paralysis can result in survivors.
  • Measles kills more than half a million children every year.
  • HIV infects 1,800 under the age of 15 every day. Most cases are transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Many developing countries haven't benefited from the remarkable medical progress of the last 50 years, UNICEF said.

Advances such as oral rehydration therapy, insecticide-treated bed nets and more efficient vaccine supplies have helped in preventing and treating diseases, it added.

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