The main killer diseases of children in Mali are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria - common diseases which are entirely preventable. Access to quality health services and skilled healthcare workers, particularly in the north and centre of the country, is severely limited. The result is that one in ten children never sees its fifth birthday, and less than half of children, (45 per cent), in Mali benefit from complete vaccination which would protect them from common childhood illnesses.
Chronic malnutrition, or stunting, affects 24 per cent of children in Mali. Stunting has long-term effects on a child's physical and cognitive development and makes children more susceptible to sickness and leads to poor performance in school. Mali also has one of the highest rates of acute malnutrition worldwide, and severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of malnutrition – affects two per cent of children.