Preventable child deaths dropping, but 7 million still die each year before fifth birthday

Published: Thursday, June 21 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Ghana recently became the first African country to introduce pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, with the help of the Gavi Alliance organization and others, and its leaders are actively addressing pneumonia and diarrhea, the two biggest childhood killers, according to an article published on the Gavi Alliance website.

"Globally, pneumonia and severe infant diarrhea together take the lives of more than 2.7 million children under the age of 5 each year," the article reports. "In Ghana, these killer diseases together account for approximately 20 percent of the country’s under-5 child mortality."

Worldwide, the GAVI Alliance’s support for pneumococcal vaccines could prevent more than 7 million deaths by 2030. By the same date, GAVI’s support for rotavirus vaccines could save an additional 2.4 million child deaths, according to the article.

“Our children have been dying from these vaccine-preventable diseases for too long, but this moment begins a major fight back,” said Health Minister Hon. Alban S. K. Bagbin in the article. “With these vaccines, we want to, and we will, achieve MDG4, the two-thirds reduction of our child mortality by 2015.”

World leaders recently gathered at the Child Survival Call to Action Forum, wrote Caryl Stern, UNICEF USA president and CEO, on her blog.
 "This effort will generate tremendous momentum for what we care about most."

"Thanks to the Child Survival forum," she went on to write, "We’re getting a lot more company in our fight. A remarkable coalition of governments, the private sector and civil society groups will be committing to more resources, more collaboration and more accountability. It’s a historic undertaking, with an audacious goal — but there is no doubt it can be achieved. We have incredible tools, like new vaccines against pneumonia, diarrhea and other major child killers. We have affordable, battle-tested strategies. And we have an unbeatable supply chain and a strong network of partners all over the world."

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