UN Inter-agency report says prioritisation needed on tackling major killers of children such as pneumonia and diarrhoea
Geneva, 15 September 2011 - The GAVI Alliance welcomes a new report showing that child mortality rates continue to fall around the world.
Issued on Thursday by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, the report argues that achieving significant further reductions will require the targeting of major killers including pneumonia and diarrhoea.
The report says a 35% reduction of child mortality rates from 88 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 57 in 2010 means the world is at risk of missing MDG4, a two thirds reduction in child mortality rates between 1990 and 2015.
The number of children under five who die every year has dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But the report also points to increasing evidence that MDG4 can be reached if countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia give high priority to reducing child mortality, particularly by targeting the major killers of children.
Two of the top killers are pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases which account for 18% and 15% of child deaths respectively, according to the report.
Pneumococcal and rotavirus diseases, the major causes of death from pneumonia and diarrhoea, together kill more than one million children every year and are the top vaccine-preventable killers of children.
Pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines
By introducing the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines in developing countries around the world, the GAVI Alliance and partners have begun the exciting work of tackling these major diseases. For example, the pneumococcal vaccine was introduced in the first GAVI country in December 2010, and is expected to reach more than 40 developing countries by 2015.
Once fully rolled out, the pneumococcal vaccine could save as many as seven million lives by 2030. This will add to a successful first decade of work, in which GAVI has supported the immunisation of an extra 288 million children, protecting them from death and disability caused by a range of diseases from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis through to hepatitis B and measles.
With current vaccines estimated to prevent over 2.5 million child deaths every year, the expanded availability of new vaccines against pneumococcal and rotavirus is expected to significantly accelerate progress towards MDG4.