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Child survival is a field of public health concerned with reducing child mortality. Child survival interventions are designed to address the most common causes of child deaths that occur, which include diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and neonatal conditions. Of the portion of children under the age of 5 alone, an estimated 9.2 million children die each year mostly from such preventable causes. According to an estimate by UNICEF in 2008, one million child deaths could be prevented annually at a cost of $US 1 billion per year (an average of $US 1000 for each child).
The British medical journal The Lancet has published a widely quoted series of five articles outlining the current child survival situation, include challenges and feasible solutions, commonly referred to as "The Lancet Child Survival Series". The series outlines a number of child survival interventions which have been scientifically proven to reduce mortality, include oral rehydration therapy, sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, vitamin A supplementation, and community-based antibiotic treatment for pneumonia. Agencies promoting and implementing child survival activities worldwide include UNICEF and non-governmental organizations; major child survival donors worldwide include the World Bank, the British Government's Department for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency and the United States Agency for International Development. In the United States, most non-governmental child survival agencies belong to the CORE Group, a coalition working, through collaborative action, to save the lives of young children in the world's poorest countries.
The child survival strategies and interventions are in line with MDGs No 4 which focused on Reducing child mortality by 2/3 of children under five before the year 2015. Many countries are now devoted to the child survival interventions as a way of reducing the child mortality. In ACP countries European commission (EC) is intervening to with funds and technical capacity to assist the ACP countries reinforce their immunisation services through a project called EU-PRIME which was a baby of cotonou agreement. The overall aim of the project is to reduce the impact and incidence of vaccines preventable diseases (VPDs)in countries of intervention.
Every year nearly 10 million children under age five die, mostly from preventable and treatable diseases. Nearly 27,000 children die every day as a result of diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and complications during childbirth. Malnutrition is an underlying contributor in over half of these deaths. Similarly, 4 million newborns die in the first 4 weeks of life (40 percent of under-5 deaths). 98 percent of under-5 deaths occur across only 42 developing countries.
Proven, cost-effective interventions can save the lives of millions of children per year. Immunization interventions still do not reach 30 million children, despite success in immunizations in reducing polio, tetanus, and measles. Measles and tetanus still kill more than 1 million children under 5 each year. Vitamin A supplementation costs only $0.02 cents for each capsule and given 2-3 times a year will prevent blindness and death. Although vitamin A supplementation saved an estimated 2.3 million lives between 1999 and 2004, only half of young children in poor countries receive these treatments. Between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind every year, with 70 percent of them dying within 12 months. Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) has helped to reduce diarrhea deaths by half, saving an estimated 1 million lives annually; yet more than 2 million children still die from diarrhea-related causes each year.
Essential newborn care - including immunizing mothers against tetanus, ensuring clean delivery practices in a hygienic birthing environment, drying and wrapping the baby immediately after birth, providing necessary warmth, and promoting immediate and continued breastfeeding, immunization, and treatment of infections with antibiotics - could save the lives of 3 million newborns annually. Improved sanitation and access to clean drinking water can reduce childhood infections and diarrhea. Over 40 percent of the world's population does not have access to basic sanitation, and more than one billion people use unsafe sources of drinking water.
In a TED presentation shown here, Hans Rosling presented the distribution and change in the child survival rate of various nations over the course of a few decades along with other factors such as fertility rate and income distribution; the change in distribution shows a strong correlation between child survival and income distribution as well as fertiltiy rate where increasing child survival allows the average income to increase as well as the average fertility rate to decrease.
- UNICEF Facts on Children - May 2008
- "Hans Rosling shows the best stats you've ever seen". TED talks. TED Conferences. February 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Technical updates are available at http://www.childsurvival.net