New Plan Against Killer Diseases

Nelson Gomonda
Nelson Gomonda

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF combine efforts to tackle two child killer diseases in Africa

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Apr. 22, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

COUNTRIES in Africa, where children are prone to two child killer diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia now have a new action plan to eliminate them. The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have launched the new action plan April 12, to tackle, for the first time, two of the three biggest killer diseases of children under five in Africa.

The plan aims to end preventable deaths of children in Africa from these diseases by 2025. In other words, the plan will save more than one million lives a year.  Every year in Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600,000 children under five die of pneumonia while more than 400,000 die of diarrhoea.  Between them, they account for over a quarter (28 percent) of all the child deaths on the continent.

The action plan calls for a substantial shift in how poverty reduction efforts are coordinated in Africa.  Aid programmes need to bring together different areas of work, such as access to drinking water, health and education, to make them more effective. The new plan calls on governments to prioritise investment in the poorest and least-served population groups.  For example, in Africa’s towns and cities, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the richest people enjoy access to adequate sanitation, while for the poorest groups in these areas only 15 percent have access.

This is why Nelson Gomonda, WaterAid’s Pan-Africa Programme Manager said: “This action plan is all about doing more of what we already know:  increasing access to drinking water and adequate sanitation, promoting breast feeding, improving availability of vaccines and making sure that treatment is on hand when children need them.

“It is the responsibility of African governments to embrace and implement the plan and otherwise the cost of inaction and failure will be high and measured in the lives of the continent’s children.  With the support and assistance of organisations like WaterAid and other donors, we can succeed in ending these preventable deaths.”

Alongside dozens of development charities, WaterAid has signed a joint statement in support of the new action plan. It declares: “We can save countless lives by using an integrated approach to fighting disease, improving access to proven interventions and by prioritising efforts to reach the poorest and most marginalised children. As the latest data demonstrate, the Global Action Plan on pneumonia and diarrhoea provides the most cost-effective approach and will help achieve the greatest impact in reducing child deaths.” The statement offers recommendations for developing country governments, businesses and donors.

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