One of the Great Humanitarian Achievements of the 21st Century Within Reach
USAID's Amie Batson discusses how ending preventable child deaths within a generation is possible.
WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PSI (Population Services International) released its child health issue of IMPACT magazine to coincide with the US Agency for International Development's "Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday Campaign," which touts the idea that ending preventable child deaths within a generation is possible. If development experts are correct, and political will can be mustered, this effort could mark one of the great humanitarian achievements of the 21st century.
"The good news is that more children are living healthier lives around the world than at any other time in history," said Desmond Chavasse, PSI Vice President for Malaria and Child Survival. "However, nearly half of the deaths that still occur are due to easily preventable problems, including diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and neonatal causes. Fortunately, we have proven and cost-effective interventions to address these challenges. The key now is to take those solutions to scale."
This issue of IMPACT juxtaposes development expert interviews with Mark Lowcock, UK Permanent Secretary for DFID, Amie Batson, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium and PSI technical experts, with stories from parents and caregivers of children in developing countries that PSI programs reach. The issue also underscores the fact that child health interventions are delivering results and identifies gaps that must be addressed to end preventable child deaths.
"There is a core set of interventions we know well, but which still fail to reach too many people ..." Lowcock told IMPACT. "I don't think the agenda is so much about new interventions, although technology does make it possible for us to deliver those old interventions in new ways, but I think the core agenda is reaching the unreached."
"With the science, technology, programmatic innovations, many countries have been able to dramatically reduce their child mortality," Batson told IMPACT. "We've gone from 1990 where over 10 million children died every year to 2010, where we're now at 7.6 million children dying. And that is just an enormous rate of achievement, and it's an achievement we've seen accelerate every decade."
The issue highlights key areas of health that need to be addressed for the global community to reach its child survival goals:
A Controversial Model for Malaria Treatment: New data is helping experts develop new strategies to change behaviors and produce the right incentives for patients and providers to seek and provide proper diagnosis and treatment for malaria.
A New Birth, A New Start: A simple checklist and clean delivery kit for midwives could save newborns from the most likely, but unnecessary, causes of infant death within the critical 48-hour window after birth.
Why WASH? The Poop Conundrum: Clean water, sanitation and hygiene -- things many westerners take for granted -- lead the pack among critical areas of need to stem the spread of disease among those who live in the developing world. Globally, more than 1 billion people defecate in public spaces and another billion don't have access to latrines that protect them from their own feces. To put this problem in perspective, just 1 gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.
The Last Mile of Health Delivery: The vast majority of people living in the developing world will never set foot in a health facility. In most cases health facilities are too far away or too expensive for them to be accessible. The last mile of health is delivered by a network of trained health workers embedded in communities who provide people in the hardest to reach areas with the medicines and care they need.
Fortified for Life: In order to end child deaths from malnutrition, it is essential to work with the food industry, governments and other partners to make sure that commonly prepared food is fortified and marketed as having the right mix of nutrients.
PSI is a global health organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world by focusing on serious challenges like a lack of family planning, HIV/AIDS, barriers to maternal health, and the greatest threats to children under five, including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition. www.psi.org
Impact is the quarterly magazine of PSI, sent to donors, stakeholders, and PSI staff in more than 65 countries around the world. Impact is a platform to discuss critical issues facing the global health community.
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