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UN goal to reduce child deaths is 15 years off track, says World Vision report

  • Pneumonia remains a leading, preventable killer of children under five years
  • Majority of preventable child deaths occur in middle-income countries
  • Political action needed to save 4.4 million children

MISSISSAUGA, Nov. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - In a report launched on World Pneumonia Day, World Vision warns that the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce child mortality is off target by 15 years. At the current rate, the goal to reduce child deaths by two thirds by 2015 will not be reached until 2030.

"Lost time means lost lives," says Sheri Arnott, senior policy advisor, World Vision Canada. "There is no justifiable reason why a preventable illness like pneumonia is still killing a million children every year. Unlike some other MDGs, the solutions to reduce child deaths are simple and proven, so there's no excuse to be so far behind on this goal."

In the report, "Never Had A Chance: Why millions of children still die needlessly every year ", World Vision highlights the six main preventable causes of death in children under age five. Together they kill 4.4 million children each year, with pneumonia taking about a quarter of those lives.

Six major killers of children:

  • Pneumonia kills one million children
  • Preterm complications kill one million children
  • Newborn infections kill 700,000 children
  • Diarrhoea kills 700,000 children
  • Birth complications kill 600,000 children
  • Malaria kills 500,000 children

Report Highlights:

  • Solutions to prevent and treat these killers are known. Pneumonia, for example, can be bacterial or viral, but both types are generally preventable through good nutrition, hygiene and care for children with lower respiratory tract infections.
  • Disturbingly, the majority of preventable child deaths are happening in middle-income countries, such as India, China and Indonesia.
  • Unless political action is accelerated, almost 100 million children will die from preventable causes over the next 20 years, and the heaviest burden will fall on families with the lowest incomes and in the most remote areas.

"It's tragic that so many children are dying needlessly in countries with growing economies and resources for healthcare such as India and China," says Arnott. "Meanwhile, in countries like Afghanistan and Haiti with weaker health systems and infrastructure, it's an uphill battle to deliver services and save lives."

What Canada must do:

"Canada is a leader in child and maternal health. Yet, more than four million children are still dying needlessly each year. We must continue to step up and ensure resources are available to put trained health care workers, midwives and doctors on the front lines," says Arnott. "Canada must also maintain pressure on other governments who have pledged to slash mortality rates but are slow to follow-through."

Canadians can also help in a tangible way by purchasing an item from World Vision's Gift Catalogue such as Immunizations for a Community, a Mobile Medical Clinic, a Hygiene Kit for a Child, or Mosquito Nets.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

Image with caption: "A mother and child wait in a hospital in southern Rwanda, where many patients are suffering from pneumonia, a leading killer of children under age five. In a new report, aid agency World Vision warns that the UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce child deaths is off target by 15 years, despite solutions proven to save lives. Photo credit: World Vision (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "A baby who survived pneumonia is examined at a clinic in Zambia, where many children arrive with respiratory tract infections. Pneumonia can be prevented and treated, yet still kills one million children each year, making it a leading preventable cause of death in children under five. In a new report, aid agency World Vision warns that the UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce child deaths is off target by 15 years, despite solutions proven to save lives. Photo credit: World Vision (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "World Vision info-graphic shows the major preventable causes of death in children under age five, and what are the solutions to save lives. (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)". Image available at:

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