My last post outlined the UNICEF ZERO program which is focused on eliminating all preventable deaths amongst children across the globe. While significant progress has been made, reducing the number of preventable deaths each day from 35,000 in 1990 to 17,000 in 2012, there is much work still to do. You may be asking, what is it going to take to achieve this goal?
As is often the case, the answers sound relatively simple, the challenge in my opinion is the scale of the problem. The good news is some countries, most notably Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Tanzania, Timor and Liberia, all of which are poor, have managed to reduce their child mortality rates by over 66% since 1990. What if all poor countries could make the same level of progress?
Over the past year, more than 175 governments have signed the following pledge, renewing their promise to accelerate progress on child survival. “To save and improve the lives of all children, we pledge to promote, encourage, and advocate for the following actions by parents and children:
- Breastfeed all newborns exclusively through the age of six months;
- Immunize children and newborns with all recommended vaccines, especially through the age of two years;
- Eliminateall harmful traditions and violence against children, and ensure children grow up in a safe and protective environment;
- Feed children with proper nutritional foods and micronutrient supplements, where available, and de- worm children;
- Give oral rehydration salts (ORS) and daily zinc supplements for 10–14 days to all children suffering from diarrhea;
- Promptly seek treatment when a child is sick; give children antibiotic treatment for pneumonia;
- Have children drink water from a safe source, including water that has been purified and kept clean and covered, away from fecal material;
- Have all children wash their hands with soap and water especially before touching food, after going to the latrine or toilet and after dealing with refuse;
- Have all children use a toilet or latrine, and safely dispose of children’s feces; prevent children from defecating in the open;
- Where relevant, have all children sleep nightly under insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, and at the immediate onset of fever, seek medical care for children to receive proper malaria testing and treatment. “
None these actions is akin to rocket science and if we put our minds to it we can achieve the ZERO goal. If you want to learn more and make a difference, check out this link.