March 5, 2010

by Bill Frist, M.D.

The Leading Child Killers No One Is Talking About

Which two diseases kill the most children worldwide? If you guessed AIDS, malaria, or measles, you're wrong.  Pneumonia and diarrhea claim the lives of more children under age 5 than those three diseases combined and account for over 30% of child deaths worldwide.

Pneumonia and diarrhea kill more children than any other disease - yet most people are unaware that this common illness has such a profound impact on the world's children.  Every day, 10,000 children die from pneumonia and diarrhea despite the fact that affordable prevention and treatment options exist. For millions of children around the world, these diseases could be prevented with vaccines and medicines that cost less than $10.

The real tragedy is that we have the tools to prevent most of these deaths but lack the political will to make their use a priority.  That's why Save the Children and GAVI have teamed up to continue raising the visibility of the biggest killers of children.

If the U.S. Government were to lead a global campaign to get pneumonia and diarrhea treatment to children living in just six countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo - we would see the single biggest reduction in child mortality of our lifetime - and we would be that much closer to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 - to reduce child mortality by 2/3 by 2015.

You can help fight the leading killers of children and make a real difference in the lives of children around the world - here is how:

  • Vote for Save the Children and Gavi's life-saving idea:

     Fight the Leading Killers of Children - Urge U.S. to Invest in Child Health

Two-month-old Damon is one example of how basic health services can save children's lives.  Damon lives in a small impoverished village in Malawi, nine miles away from the nearest health facility. When Damon was 5 days old, he suddenly stopped breastfeeding and started crying.  He was weak, had a high fever, a fast pulse and short breaths. Fortunately, his mother Zione, did not have to carry Damon miles to get medical care, because a trained community health worker was right there in her community to evaluate the little boy's condition and provide antibiotics. Prompt attention from this health worker, who then referred the baby to a hospital, very likely saved Damon from a tragic death.

Show your support for the world's children and vote for US leadership against the leading killers of children. Vote today and help ensure this issue is presented to the Obama Administration and's one million supporters. Help children who cannot vote for themselves.