Aid group: 24,000 infant deaths preventable daily

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 3:01 PM

More than 24,000 infants die daily from preventable diseases in developing countries because governments have failed to spend more on health care, an international aid group said Monday.

A report from World Vision said that where governments have shown a high level of political leadership on child health, deaths have fallen. The group cited Liberia as an example: childhood deaths there have dropped by half the last five years.

Most early childhood deaths occur in the first 28 days of life, while later deaths are caused by pneumonia diarrhea, and malaria, which together accounted for 45 per cent of the deaths, World Vision said.

Despite claiming the lives of almost 9 million children each year, infant deaths have attracted little political attention either from the worst-affected countries or at an international level, the group said.

"It is shameless that we as civil society throughout the world would allow so many children to die every day," World Vision global ambassador Dean Hirsch said during the launch of the World Vision Global Child Health Campaign.

The report said the epicenter of the child health emergency is sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, with half of all deaths accounted for by just five countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

The report, titled "Child Health Now," was released as part of a global five-year campaign by World Vision to reduce child deaths.

Kevin Jenkins, World Vision's president and chief executive, said his organization will spend $1.5 billion over the next five years to reduce child deaths.

"This is more than just a problem facing the developing world. It is a silent emergency. And it is, I believe, the greatest child rights violation of our time," Jenkins said.

Jenkins urged wealthy nations to fulfill their promises and to improve conditions in developing countries.

"Wars and calamities have consigned millions of African children to distress for far too long," Ida Odinga, the wife of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, said at a conference launching the World Vision report.