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Child death reduction needs five times more funds

The experts reveal that lot more funds are needed from the rich countries to achieve the universal goal of reducing deaths of children under five by two-thirds.//

Five times more money is needed to meet the goal say experts, whose paper is one of the series of papers published online by the Lancet today. It coincides with a high-level meeting hosted by the journal, UNICEF and the Norwegian government.

According to Timothy Powell-Jackson and his colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, last year the nations with highest death rates were given $1.36bn (£725m), or nearly $3 a child by the donor countries. Around $7bn extra will be required to attain the child mortality millennium development goal (MDG) by 2015.

"The current level of overseas development assistance "is inadequate to provide more than a small portion of the total resources needed to reach the MDGs for child and maternal health", they write. "If commitments are to be honoured, global aid flows will need to increase sharply during the next five years."

According to the authors, an increase of $50bn is predicted in the overseas development aid by 22010. However, the real challenge is to make sure that improvement of women and child health get sufficient amount of that money.

Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal and the Philippines are the 7 countries, of the 60 with highest child death rate, targeted for child-death- reduction by 2/3rds. Death rates increased in 14 nations, in the period 1990-2004, mainly due to war and HIV.

The study revealed that not enough money was spent on the 2 major diseases (that are preventable) that are responsible for child death worldwide: diarrhoea and pneumonia. Pneumonia causes death of over 2 million under-5 children, every year. This figure is more than the combined numbers of deaths from AIDS, malaria and measles. However, giving Hib, measles and pneumococcal vaccines along with sufficient nutrition for the children can prevent pneumonia. Heath workers should be trained to recognize it and treatment is possible with antibiotics.

According to another paper in the Lancet series, insecticide-treated bednets for protection against bites of malarial mosquitoes is available to only 3% of the children. The countries affected by malaria have not been getting sufficient funds for providing nets.

"Millennium development goal four, the child mortality goal, will be missed, unless the world mobilises the necessary resources and the political will, " says the Lancet's editor, Richard Horton. "This state of affairs is ironic given that MDG-4 may be the most achievable of all the MDGs," he writes in a commentary. "This goal acts as a spotlight for many neglected diseases, as well as a litmus test for the achievement of other MDGs."

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