The Progress of Nations: Health

What kills children

Classifying deaths by disease hides the fact that death is not usually an event with one cause but a process with many causes. In particular, it is the conspiracy between malnutrition and infection which pulls many children into the downward spiral of poor growth and early death.

It is now accepted that about half of all child deaths are associated with malnutrition. Action on both fronts - to improve nutrition and to protect against disease - could save many more lives (and be significantly more cost-effective) than action on either front alone. And more than three quarters of all these malnutrition-related deaths are linked not to severe malnutrition but to mild and moderate forms.

Causes of death pie chart

ARI: acute respiratory infections

SOURCE WHO, World Health Reports 1995.

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