Sunday February 17, 2019

A Majority of Children Die Due to Lack of Basic Healthcare Facilities: UN

For children everywhere, the most precarious time is the first month of life

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Children
A malnourished child lies in a bed waiting to receive treatment at a therapeutic feeding center in a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen, Jan. 24, 2016. (VOA)

An estimated 6.3 million children died before their 15th birthdays in 2017, or one every five seconds, mostly due to a lack of water, sanitation, nutrition and basic healthcare, according to report by United Nations agencies on Tuesday.

The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths, the report said.

“With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines” this toll could be dramatically reduced, said Laurence Chandy, an expert with the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF. But without urgent action, 56 million children under five – half of them newborns – will die between now and 2030.

Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths in children under five were in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in 13 children died before their fifth birthday. In high-income countries, that number was one in 185, according to the report co-led by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Children
UN: A Child Dies Every Five Seconds, Most Are Preventable Deaths. Pixabay

It found that most children under five die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal sepsis and malaria. Among older children – aged five to 14 – injuries become a more prominent cause of death, especially from drowning and road traffic.

For children everywhere, the most precarious time is the first month of life. In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month, and a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than one born in a high-income country.

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Despite these problems, the U.N. report found that fewer children are dying each year worldwide. The number of under five deaths fell to 5.4 million in 2017 from 12.6 million in 1990, while the number of deaths in five to 14 year-olds dropped to under a million from 1.7 million in the same period. (VOA)

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Study Reveals Midday Meals in School Improves Child’s Scores and Skills

The effect of nutrition appears to be cumulative, seen over time.

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Food
Food provided to children during Midday Meal. Pixabay

Primary school children who ate midday meals over an extended period were shown to have significantly better learning outcomes, according to researchers of Indian-origin.

The researchers, in the study published in the Journal of Development Economics, suggest a powerful connection between nutrition and education.

Professors Rajshri Jayaraman from ESMT Berlin in Germany and Tanika Chakraborty from the Indian Institute of Technology in India studied the effects of India’s midday meal scheme – the world’s largest free school lunch programme – feeding over 120 million children every day.

midday meal
Children showed an improvement of nine per cent for maths test scores. Pixabay

The study showed that children with up to five years of midday meals had reading test scores that are 18 per cent higher than those of students with less than a year of school lunches.

In addition, they showed an improvement of nine per cent for maths test scores.

“The effect of nutrition appears to be cumulative, seen over time. Previous studies have varied between two weeks and two years, and failed to capture the important impact. Our research shows that the real benefit of school lunches was seen in children exposed for two to five years,” said Jayaraman.

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For the study, the researchers used data from nearly 600 rural districts in India, covering over 200,000 households.

In 2017, World Food Programme implemented or supported school feeding programmes for 18.3 million children in 71 countries.(IANS)