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Saving Millions of Children's Lives Is Possible
Date:10/22/2007

Better food, water, sanitation would make all the difference, report finds

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of childrens lives could be saved by a coordinated global effort to improve nutrition and provide clean water, better sanitation and cleaner household fuels in underdeveloped countries, a new study finds.

Each year, such an endeavor would spare the lives of almost 1.5 million children in sub-Saharan Africa, 800,000 children in South Asia and nearly 50,000 children in Latin America and the Caribbean, concluded the report, which is published in the Oct. 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Targeting the interventions to the poor would maximize the number of lives saved, said study co-author Dr. Majid Ezzati, an associate professor of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.

"Everyone needs clean water and good nutrition," Ezzati said. "It's not that the rich don't need it but that the poor end of the income spectrum has so many problems that dealing with any one of them can have many benefits."

This week's issue of the journal is devoted to reports on poverty and human development. Its publication is part of an effort by more than 200 journals worldwide to publish papers on these global issues -- an effort launched by the Council of Science Editors and sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Ezzati and his colleagues gathered data to determine whether it might be possible to achieve the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals for better health.

Using data gathered by the World Health Organization and national organizations, they determined that an estimated 56 percent of the children in Latin America and the Caribbean, 87 percent in South Asia, and 83 percent in sub-Saharan Africa are exposed to preventable health risks linked to unsafe nutrition, water, sanitation and fuels.


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