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UNICEF welcomes public and private pledge to scale up treatment of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia

WASHINGTON, D.C., 14 June 2012 – UNICEF welcomes a declaration today by two private companies, the U.S. and Canadian governments and leading global health organizations to scale up treatment of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia – two of the leading killers of children under the age of five.

UNICEF is committed to working closely with governments, civil society, the private sector, communities and other partners to refocus efforts and support sustained, large-scale programmes against the leading causes of child mortality.

The declaration was announced on the first day of the Child Survival Call to Action meeting in Washington, D.C.

A multi-stakeholder approach has the potential to greatly reduce the survival gap between children who currently have ready access to treatment and children who don’t, while at the same time accelerating progress toward eliminating all preventable deaths.

A disease that is little more than an inconvenience in the developed world, diarrhoea is often a death sentence among the poorest and most deprived children in developing countries and contributes to stunting, a major impediment to growth, development and learning, and by extension to economic growth and national development.

Similarly, it is the poorest and most vulnerable children who are more likely to become sick with pneumonia and to develop severe illness, often due to undernutrition or co-infection with other diseases such as malaria.

UNICEF believes that increasing the availability of affordable and effective health commodities such as Oral Rehydration Salts and zinc for diarrhoea and antibiotics for pneumonia, will play a key role in reducing child deaths – as will the training and deployment of community health workers to treat sick children close to home through integrated community case management.

In addition to treatment, UNICEF recognizes that a broad inter-sectoral approach focused on effective prevention – breastfeeding, safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene, immunization and appropriate behaviour change communication – is required for maximum impact on diarrhoea and pneumonia. Further, key demand-side barriers, both financial and behavioural, need to be addressed in order to ensure access and availability.

UNICEF recently issued a report highlighting the significant overlap in prevention and treatment interventions for diarrhoea and pneumonia, calling for an integrated and equitable approach to save children’s lives. To this end, UNICEF will continue to work with partners and considers the adoption of this declaration an opportunity to strengthen collaboration across the international community.


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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The two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., is being Livestreamed at: http://www.apromiserenewed.org

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For further information, please contact:
Peter Smerdon, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 303 7984,




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