World Vision launches five-year campaign to avert child deaths

Published 22 March 2010  |  
The country's leading Christian humanitarian organisation World Vision has embarked on a campaign to improve maternal and child health in India.

Despite being touted as one of the fastest growing countries in the world, India continues to lag behind in terms of child health, according to World Vision.

Globally, nearly 9 million children under the age of five die each year, mostly due to preventable causes. And in India, about 5000 children die every single day due to preventable diseases.

To mitigate this evil, World Vision last Thursday launched a five year campaign 'Child Health Now' (Baal Swastya Abhi) that addresses the devastating effects of poor health on mothers and their children.

Launching the campaign, Dr. Dean Hirsch, World Vision's Global Ambassador, said: "Child Health Now is World Vision's contribution to the growing chorus of leaders from the UN, NGOs and other organisations calling for urgent action to save mothers and their children from preventable deaths."

Through the campaign, the humanitarian organisation aims to support communities in raising their voices about their right to quality health care, and press national governments to meet their responsibilities to children, mothers, families and communities throughout the country.

Worldwide every 3.5 seconds a child under five dies: 24,000 deaths a day; almost nine million a year and India shares the highest burden of 1.95 million under five deaths, as stated in the 'Child Health Now-Together We Can End Preventable Deaths' report.

India joins the ranks of countries like Afghanistan and Zambia which are in the list of the twenty countries with the highest rates of child deaths per 1000 children.

According to the report in 2007, in India, child mortality rate and the availability of health workers stood at abysmal levels of 110 deaths per 1000 live births and only 1.9 Health workers for 1000 children. The report says that the under five deaths in 2007 stood at an astonishing high of 1,953,000.

Dr. Jayakumar Christian, National Director of World Vision India said: "India is one of the countries that is highly unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. India spends only 1.06% of GDP on health, which is 2.3% of the country's total budgetary expenditure."

"In World Vision's work with children in drought affected Rajasthan to the flood affected Karnataka a few months back, we see these invisible citizens of our nation on the verge of extreme vulnerability being exposed to hunger, under nutrition and water borne diseases. But we've also seen through our work with over 5000 poor communities across the country that progress is possible: But much more must be done by the government to meet their promise to curtail child and mothers deaths by 2015," Dr. Christian added.

According to the World Vision report, most child deaths are accounted for by just four main causes: neonatal complications and infections, with 40% of child deaths occurring in the first 28 days of life, and pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, which together account for a further 45% of child mortality.

All of these causes are largely preventable – very few children die from them in the world's richest countries – and an estimated two thirds of children could be saved through simple interventions such as better nutrition and skilled birth attendance.


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