A second Child Survival Revolution to achieve goals for children
The State of the World’s Children 2008:
KUALA LUMPUR, 15 April 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aims to inspire a second Child Survival Revolution like it did in the eighties to accelerate actions to reduce child deaths, using simple and cost effective integrated community health strategies.
The call was made by UNICEF’s Representative to Malaysia, Mr. Youssouf Oomar during the national launch of its flagship report The State of the World’s Children (SOWC) 2008 by Her Excellency Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, First Lady of Malaysia.
Her Excellency Datin Seri Jeanne joined the call, stressing the need for everyone to step forward to ensure the best for children.
“Promoting child survival is not just a task for parents – it is a responsibility that must be shared by parents, educators, the community, health officials and the media,” said Her Excellency Datin Seri Jeanne before launching the Report together with four year old Muhammad Azeem bin Kamarul Baharin, and five year olds Andra Tai Li-Ying and Sanjay Emanuel. Malaysia’s Minister of Health Dato’ Liow Tiong Lai and Mr. Youssouf Oomar joined in the launch.
“I feel it is time for all of us to start being a more caring community, as what our country needs right now is a society that cares about our children and each other,” added Her Excellency Datin Seri Jeanne.
Low cost interventions for child survival
According to Mr. Youssouf, a primary health care package like in the eighties can cut back child deaths by more than half.
“In a throw-back to the great disease campaigns of the 1950s, the Child Survival Revolution introduced in the eighties was dedicated to saving the lives of children, by vanquishing common infections of early childhood, using simple and inexpensive medical technologies,” said Mr. Youssouf.
Collectively referred to as G.O.B.I., the low cost interventions were : 'G' for growth monitoring to keep a regular check on a child’s well-being; 'O' for oral rehydration therapy to treat bouts of childhood diarrhoea; 'B' for breastfeeding as the perfect nutritional start in life; and 'I' for immunisation against the six vaccine-preventable childhood killers: tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and measles.
According to SOWC 2008, some 26,000 children die each day before turning five, mostly from preventable and treatable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and measles. Almost all of these are unknown as causes of death in the developed world. Malnutrition, which weakens children’s ability to ward off illness as well as the lack of safe water and sanitation, contributes to more than half of all child deaths.
The approach to child survival that the SOWC report advocates would see the best disease-specific initiatives combined with investment in strong national health systems to create a continuum of care for mothers, newborns and young children that extends from the household, to the local clinic, to the district hospital and beyond.
Mr. Youssouf highlighted that Malaysia’s long-term investments in health have reduced it’s under five mortality rates from 22 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 12 per 1,000 live births in 2006.
A grand alliance for children
“Where once children died of preventable diseases, today many more survive because of immunisations and improved conditions and care. Where once the risk of mothers dying in childbirth was immense, today the country has a safe motherhood program that is accessible through all Hospitals, including the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Clinics”, added Mr. Youssouf. “Throughout Malaysia, these and other advances have reduced misery, simulated economic growth, built a stronger society and enabled the country to modernise and engage with the global marketplace.”
He pointed out however that Malaysia cannot afford to take its eye off children, despite these remarkable achievements.
“Challenges for children will never cease. Today, risk to child survival takes many new forms, including HIV, violence, intentional and unintentional injuries including road accidents. Malaysia must continue to remain vigilant to all forms of threat to its children if it is to honour its obligations and meet its commitment in reducing child mortality”, he said.
Vital to this second child survival revolution and the new threats reasons the SOWC 2008 report is involvement of local communities.
“Through their regular interaction with families, community leaders – including local politicians, elders, religious leaders, teachers and health-care workers – can help families change their behaviours, including customs and practices that affect the health and survival of women and children,” added Mr. Youssouf.
Newsline - SOWC 2008
Newsline - Child Survival (global news)
Newsline - Child Survival in Malaysia
22 August 2007:
High marks to tackle under-weight prevalence
20 July 2007:
26 May 2006:
18 November 2004:
Resources - Malaysia