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Better Nutrition, Sanitation Would Reduce Child Mortality

Priority should be given to the poor in order to achieve greatest impact

TUESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Nutritional and environmental interventions aimed at poor people can help achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets for reducing child mortality, according to a report published in the Oct. 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To assess whether improved child nutrition, and provision of clean water, sanitation and fuels had an impact on child mortality rates, Emmanuela Gakidou, Ph.D., of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues analyzed data from 42 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

If clean household fuels and water, sanitation and improved child nutrition were implemented in families with children under 5 years of age, child deaths would be reduced in each area, the investigators found. It would result in 49,700 fewer deaths (14 percent) in Latin America and the Caribbean, 800,000 (24 percent) in South Asia, and 1.47 million (31 percent) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Such benefits would enable the three regions to bridge between 30 percent and 48 percent of the gap between the current situation and the MDG target on reducing child mortality.

"Fifty percent coverage of the same environmental and nutritional interventions, as envisioned by the MDGs, would reduce child mortality by 26,900, 510,000 and 1.02 million in the three regions, respectively, if the interventions are implemented among the poor first," the authors write.

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