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If it is preventable then why are children dying?

17 April 2013

Our Survive to Five Campaign aims to raise awareness of the fact that millions of children are dying every year needlessly. Their lives could easily be saved. 

If that is the case, why are they dying?

Let’s look at the good news first. In 2011, for the first time, annual deaths of children under five years old fell below seven million – that's a reduction of 41% in 20 years, and progress is accelerating… If we really want to we could see near to zero preventable child deaths in our lifetime.

So how do we go about achieving this?

Firstly we have to ensure that all children have access to nutritious food. Without it, children are more vulnerable to illnesses. Malnutrition is considered to be the underlying cause of more than 2.6 million child deaths every year. And the frustrating thing is that it is not difficult to prevent this from happening. Simple interventions, known as the “lifesaving six” can improve nutrition and save lives. They are: 

  • Iron folate supplements to address anaemia; 
  • Exclusive breastfeeding; 
  • Complementary feeding of nutritious foods for toddlers;
  • Vitamin A to prevent illness; 
  • Zinc to prevent diarrhoea; 
  • Access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene.

All six of these interventions are cost effective. If the world were to decide tomorrow to put a stop to children dying needlessly we could easily afford to do it. We just need the will to make it happen.

How to we save the lives of newborns?

40 % of child deaths occur in the first month of life. More than one million preterm babies die shortly after birth every year. 75% of these deaths could be avoided if inexpensive, simple prevention and treatment tools are available to mothers and practitioners around the world. Supporting new mums to breastfeed and advising them on vaccinations and hygiene is inexpensive, but is a proven way to save their babies lives. 

World Vision Ireland’s AIM health programme is currently working with mothers in ten areas in Africa doing just this. It is our aim to reduce the number of babies and mothers dying by 25% in each of these areas by 2015. We are confident that we can. 

Research shows that 77 countries have reduced their newborn mortality rate by more than 25% with early intervention such as this.

Is child death in the developing world inevitable?

Disease isn’t inevitable, nor do children with these diseases such as malaria or diarrhoea need to die. The precious lives of children who die each year could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets and improved family care.

How much is a childs life worth?

There are simple, inexpensive ways to save children’s lives. 21 children are still dying every minute. Every minute! This is 21 sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, best friends, cousins, grandchildren. Their lives are precious, so at the end of the day how much are they worth? It is inexpensive to save a child’s life but that shouldn’t really matter. What should matter is that we can... but we don’t.

Please support Survive to Five in any way that you can, even by just spreading the word. It is time that we stood up for the children who have become statistics and put a stop to it happening to any more.How much is a childs life worth?

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