BREAKING NEWS: London: Pneumonia ‘Could Kill Millions Of Children’: Charity Warns

24 Jan

Charities are warning millions of children worldwide will die if the richest counties fail to honour their pledge to fund vital immunisation and vaccination treatments.

Pneumonia ‘Could Kill Millions Of Children’ Enlarge photo

Save the Children has said the current global financial crisis could lead to a funding shortfall that will fail many youngsters.

It claimed the already agreed mechanism to give cheap drugs to poor countries will slash the eight million children a year who die of easily treatable illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhoea.

But the scheme is in jeopardy.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea kill more under-fives globally than any other illnesses, accounting for three times more deaths than malaria and HIV combined.

If children were routinely vaccinated, the death toll could be cut by up to a quarter, the aid agency said.

Youngsters in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Yemen and Guyana are being immunised against pneumonia through as part of a new global immunisation programme.

But Save the Children has warned plans to extend the programme across the developing world could stall because of a looming funding crisis.

The charity is launching its ‘No Child Born to Die’ campaign backed by UK celebrities including Alexandra Burke, Hermione Norris, Frank Lampard, Martin Clunes, Dervla Kirwan, Natasha Kaplinsky and Edith Bowman.

Since 2000, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) has raised funds enabling it to strike deals with pharmaceutical companies for lower-priced vaccines to be sold to the developing world.

While an estimated 288m children have already been reached, a total of £500m a year over the next five years is needed if GAVI is to bridge the immunisation gap.

This is partly because the new vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhoea are more expensive to roll out, even at a discount rate.

In the most ambitious global push against pneumonia to date, GAVI has approved the roll-out of the latest, most effective vaccines to 19 countries – but 26 others have not yet been guaranteed funding.

In slums across the globe, children suffer, not just because of the grinding poverty, but because of the filth they live among every day.

Child mortality in India is among the world’s worst and funding is considered absolutely critical there.

The sprawling colony of economic migrants known as Sanjay, in the north west corner of India’s capital New Delhi, is home to at least 50,000 people.

There are no clinics or hospitals here – there is not even a doctor.

In a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, this slum is one of the most dangerous places in the world for the thousands of children who live there.

Thirty-year-old Parvathi Singh spoke to Sky News in a dimly-lit but immaculately clean shack.

She has six children. Her seventh died just 48 hours after contracting pneumonia and diarrhoea. With no immunity, she simply closed down and died.

“It’s terribly dirty out here you can see for yourself,” Parvathi said, pointing outside at an open sewer running past the front door.

“The drains are absolutely filthy and nobody comes to clean. Now the summer is coming and out problems with the children will start again.”

Save the Children has new vaccines and an existing programme of immunisation – GAVI – paid for by the G8 nations to give out cheap drugs.

But in the midst of the current economic downturn, they are concerned the funding and the promises will be reneged upon.

Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, warned: “Just when we are on the brink of a breakthrough against major child killers, the cash is running out.

“Without it, children will continue to die on a scale, and from causes, that would be unimaginable in Britain.”

He added: “It’s not just the new vaccines that are at stake. Millions of children are already missing out on even the most basic immunisations against illnesses like whooping cough and tetanus.

“With more funds, many more of the poorest and most marginalised kids can be reached.”

Haiti_One_Year.

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