By Alex Lambert
A World Vision Report released Monday highlights the United Nations’s failure to meet the deadline for its Millennium Development Goal, a plan with the objective of reducing child deaths by two thirds by 2015.
The report, released on World Pneumonia Day, states that of the six main killers of children under the age of five, pneumonia is still the leader, responsible for the deaths of one million children per year.
Other major killers of children mentioned in the report are preterm complications, newborn infections, birth complications, diarrhea and malaria.
Collectively, these afflictions are responsible for a yearly total of 4.4 million deaths of children under the age of five.
“One of the things that is important to realize is that people dying from pneumonia is really a symptom of poverty,” World Vision senior policy advisor Sheri Arnott told Humber News.
She said that impoverished areas deal with a number of factors that cause pneumonia to be such a common killer.
“It’s a combination of all the things that keep poor children unhealthy,” Arnott said.
She said people in these areas already typically have poor health, low nutrition, little or no education, and inadequate access to health services, sanitation and clean water.
Arnott said that in India, for instance, “their national health system is poorly resourced, and it doesn’t reach the poorest communities, which is where those deaths are concentrated.”
She said there are two main reasons that the UN won’t meet its goal until 2030.
First, she said that the economic constraints of the last recession slowed progress.
“That had an impact on the ability of (developed) countries to meet those targets,” Arnott said.
Secondly, Arnott said more political will is needed to combat these deaths meaning countries like India and China that have the resources to reach these goals don’t put enough focus on these issues. Arnott said countries like this need to make the goal of reducing child mortality a “national level priority” and utilize “sufficient national budget resources” to deal with the problem.
She pointed out the progress that’s already been made on this issue during previous decades, citing a 42 per cent reduction in preventable child deaths since 1990.
“On the one hand, that’s something to celebrate. There has been global action,” Arnott said. “We’ve made some good progress but we need to really put the push on to make even more progress,” she said.
Some of the worst affected areas outlined in the report include India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Afghanistan.