March 6, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The statistics are alarming:
Most of these deaths were completely preventable. The majority of children would have survived if they had only had access to simple, cost-effective interventions. The loss of a child is an immeasurable tragedy, not just for the families who suffer an inconsolable loss but also for the wasted human potential.
A look at child health facts shows the pressing need for more maternal and child healthcare professionals, especially in third world countries.
In 2011, pneumonia accounted for 17% of all deaths of under-five year olds, killing an estimated 1.2 million children around the world. Simple measures such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunisation, adequate nutrition and reduction in household air pollution could have prevented many of these deaths. Oxygen and antibiotics are crucial treatment tools.
Malaria is another leading cause of death among children under five. Early testing and treatment with effective anti-malarial medication increases child survival.
An estimated 2 million children under 15 years of age are living with HIV and more than 1000 being newly infected every single day. Without proper intervention, more than half of all HIV-infected children do not live to see their second birthday. Safer delivery measures and education on safe feeding practices along with early testing and treatment with antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-infected children could greatly improve their survival and quality of life.
Advice on proper sanitation and hygiene, immunization and exclusive breastfeeding can help keep prevent young children from contracting diarrhoea. Treating sick children with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc supplements is the safest and most cost-effective way to saves lives.
Safe childbirth and effective neonatal care in the first month of life are essential for a child to survive. This is because the risk of dying is highest in the first month of life. Most newborn deaths are caused because of birth asphyxia, premature birth or infections. From 1 year up to 5 years, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria are the main causes of loss of life.
Most of these deaths are preventable through access to practical, low-cost healthcare interventions and effective primary care up to five years of age. Some of the biggest challenges to improving child health around the world are lack of education and a continuing shortage of qualified and trained medical professionals, especially midwives and obstetricians. Stronger health systems and more trained professionals are crucial for improving access to care and prevention.
Newborn life is fragile. Health risks to newborns can only be minimised by quality care during pregnancy, safe delivery by a skilled birth attendant and essential neonatal care after birth – immediate attention to breathing and warmth and hygienic cord and skin care.