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UNICEF Aims to Defeat Deadly Diarrhea and Pneumonia for Poor Children

Update Date: Jun 08, 2012 06:56 PM EDT

United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is starting a big global health campaign to prevent and treat diarrhea and pneumonia, the biggest killers of children under the age of five. The report requested for consistent and stable handing-out plan for new vaccines to defeat pneumonia and diarrhea. Those vaccines will drive away the influenza virus, rotavirus, and pneumococcal bacteria which are the main causes of the diseases.

Pneumonia and diarrhea took away 29 percent of lives among children under the age of five across the world. If this program starts, it will save up to 2 million of the world’s poorest children every year, according to the UNICEF. Especially, it will be giving a great relief to the people who are suffering in the poor regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where nearly 90 % of deaths from those diseases happen.

"We know what works against pneumonia and diarrhoea - the two illnesses that hit the poorest hardest," said Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF.

"Scaling up simple interventions could overcome two of the biggest obstacles to increasing child survival (and) help give every child a fair chance to grow and thrive," he added.

According to the UNICEF study, some of the preventions for the disease include the distribution of vaccines, increasing vaccine coverage and antibiotics, breastfeeding, hand-washing with soap, expanding access to safe drinking water, and sanitation.

Besides the vaccine distribution, it noted that one of the simplest and also effective ways to protect babies from disease is exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of infants.

“Infants not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die due to pneumonia than are exclusively breastfed children,” it said.

The report also said that about 50 percent of those infants death happens in mostly these five poor and populous countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.

“This report is a call to action. A global action plan will be released next year and set out a "clear and integrated vision" of how to proceed," UNICEF said

The UNICEF will have a planned meeting next week in Washington, held by the governments of Ethiopia, India, and the United States on child-survival objectives.

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