Saturday 31 July 2010

Child deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa

WaterAid’s brochure for the 15th African Union Summit held in Kampala, Uganda, from 19 to 27 July, Biggest killer of children in Africa cannot be addressed without sanitation and water, has this to say:

Diarrhoea is now the biggest killer of children in Africa [1]. Every day, 2,000 African children die from diarrhoea – deaths that are entirely preventable. Nine out of ten cases of diarrhoea can be prevented by safe water and sanitation – proven cost-effective interventions. Despite this, today only four in ten Africans have access to a basic toilet. This failure will undermine efforts to accelerate progress on the MDG for child mortality.

[1]. Black. R. et al., Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2008: a systematic analysis, The Lancet, 5 June 2010: 375, 1969–87 (free pdf download). Here’s an excerpt from this paper:

Of the estimated 8,795 million deaths in children younger than 5 years worldwide in 2008, infectious diseases caused 68% (5,970 million), with the largest percentages due to pneumonia (18%, 1,575 million), diarrhoea (15%, 1,336 million), and malaria (8%, 0,732 million). 41% (3,575 million) of deaths occurred in neonates. … 49% (4,294 million) of child deaths occurred in five countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and China.

Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are not on-track to meet the MDG sanitation target:

Why do these governments continue to let their children die in such large numbers from preventable sanitation-related diseases like diarrhoea?