More than 1 million child deaths in India can easily be prevented every year
The world cannot continue with business as usual when every year nearly 11 children die before their fifth birthday from easily preventable and readily treatable causes – almost 90 percent of these deaths occur in 42 countries of South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.
What is baffling is that a vast majority of these deaths could be easily averted. Scientific evidence available today tells us that in India alone more than 1 million child lives could be saved from scaling up known and proven cost effective interventions.
A National Conference on Child Survival, involving experts, officials donors and NGOS from different parts of the world, will be held in New Delhi on November 29-30 to draw up a roadmap for child survival over the next ten years. With over 240 million children under the age of five, India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths. It is evident that a major turnaround in India will ensure a significant impact globally!
The message of hope in this challenging scenario is that a vast majority of children can be saved through a combination of good care, nutrition, and medical treatment. Simple measures like exclusive breastfeeding for six months can prevent child deaths by a good 16%. It is believed that other easy measures could prevent 90% of diarrhea deaths, 62% of pneumonia deaths, 100% measles deaths 92% malaria deaths, 44% HIV/AIDS deaths and 52% neonatal fatalities. Proven strategies and interventions such as keeping the newborn baby sufficiently warm, neonatal resuscitation, micronutrient supplements such as vitamin A and zinc and antibiotics for sepsis, pneumonia and dysentery are expected to be discussed. Various impediments that still pose a challenge to such simple interventions will be identified and solutions explored.
The conference is being seen as an expression of the Indian government’s serious resolve to curb child mortality by joining hands with the Global Partnership for Child Survival in a bid to address this overdue issue with utmost urgency.
The Conference under India’s leadership is a significant milestone in galvanising global and national commitment and action for accelerated reduction of child mortality worldwide, through universal coverage of essential, cost-effective child health interventions.