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Tackle common child diseases - Unicef

Monday June 11th, 2012

More than two million children could be saved every year by stepping up simple treatments to tackle two common illnesses, experts have warned.

A report from Unicef says improved treatments for pneumonia and diarrhoea would reduce death rates among the world's poorest children and in its poorest countries.

More than 90 per cent of these deaths occur in Africa and in southern Asia.

Measures to prevent the diseases include hand-washing, breast-feeding and introducing safe drinking water.

Antibiotics for pneumonia and cheap oral rehydration salts for diarrhoea - which reach just a third of the world's poorest families - would also make a big difference, according to the report.

Ethiopia, India and the USA have called a summit involving some 700 people later this week in Washington DC, USA.

The figure of two million is based on achieving the same coverage in 75 countries with the highest death rates as is achieved in the world's wealthier countries.

Unicef says just 40 per cent of babies in the poorest countries enjoy breast-feeding for a full six months. And it says new vaccines could also make a difference.

Unicef executive director Anthony Lake said: “We know what works against pneumonia and diarrhoea – the two illnesses that hit the poorest hardest.

“Scaling up simple interventions could overcome two of the biggest obstacles to increasing child survival, help give every child a fair chance to grow and thrive.”

Tags: Africa | Asia | Child Health | Gastroenterology | Respiratory | World Health

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