New global estimates of the causes of childhood mortality

in page functions

Pneumonia and diarrhoea remain the leading killers of children

Geneva, 17 May 2010 - In a recent report, the World Health Organization outlined the disease-specific causes of the estimated 8.8 million annual child deaths.

At current rates of progress, these countries will not reach Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015 unless the world mobilises the political will and resources for child survival.

GAVI Alliance

According to the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG), convened by GAVI Alliance partners WHO and UNICEF, pneumonia and diarrhoea remain the main causes of death for children under five; in 2008 alone, nearly three million children under five years of age died from these two causes. Overall, infectious diseases still account for 68% of child mortality.

Proven solutions exist to prevent deaths due to pneumonia and diarrhoea in children. There are new vaccines against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus, which are among the main causes of the most severe cases of pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Life-saving vaccines

The GAVI Alliance has committed to supporting the introduction and wide scale use of these new vaccines in the world's poorest countries. To achieve this goal, however, GAVI needs to raise an additional US$ 2.6 billion by 2015.

Despite the availability of live-saving vaccines, more than two million children still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2004, 60 countries represented 94% of all deaths among children less than five years of age in the world.

Millennium Development Goal 4

At current rates of progress, these countries will not reach Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015 unless the world mobilises the political will and resources for child survival. Between 1990 and 2006, about 27 countries - the large majority in sub-Saharan Africa - made no progress in reducing childhood deaths.

Against this background and in light of the new data, the GAVI Alliance urges all actors to work together to ensure that proven, life-saving interventions reach the most vulnerable children in the world.

More on this topic

close icon

modal window here