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Studies Reveal Slow Progress on Global Child Deaths

Lack of funds means vulnerable countries are falling behind, experts say

MONDAY, Sept. 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Global experts on child health are meeting in New York City on Monday to discuss an ongoing tragedy: the fact that 10.5 million children under the age of five die each year.

Most of these deaths could be prevented, experts say.

Coinciding with this meeting, the U.K. medical journal The Lancet is publishing a special online issue dedicated to research on child survival.

In one study, researchers found that the world's major aid donors gave an estimated $1.36 billion to the 60 countries that account for the most child deaths in the world. That sounds like a large sum, but translates to just $3.10 per child, the researchers said.

In order to meet the goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, an estimated additional $7 billion per year is needed. The authors concluded that the new funds should go toward interventions known to improve child survival, such as interventions addressing diarrhea and pneumonia.

Another study presented the latest findings from the Child Survival Countdown, a worldwide effort to monitor the use of 19 interventions that can improve child survival in the 60 most vulnerable countries.

Researchers reported that only seven of the 60 priority countries are now expected to reach the 2015 goal. According to the authors, it is important to support interventions aimed at preventing malaria and immunizing children against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.

In another study, researchers assessed the effect of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) on diptheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccine coverage. The researchers concluded that GAVI should redistribute its resources to countries with the lowest vaccine coverage.

More information

UNICEF has more about child mortality.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Sept. 17, 2006
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