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Cheap and simple community-based measures save childrens' lives worldwide

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Cheap and simple community-based measures save childrens' lives worldwide - UNICEF

Fatma, 2, is one of the thousands of Kenyan children whose lives have been saved by a cheap and simple preventive health measure. The mass distribution of insecticide-treated bednets in Kenya has halved malaria deaths in the past five years. Its success is part of a range of community-based health programs that, UNICEF believes, hold the key to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds – and achieving other MDGs – by 2015.

The programs span the globe – from universal salt iodization in Turkmenistan, which has helped eliminate iodine deficiency disorder, to a community centre in Argentina that supports disabled children with special needs. These initiatives have different aims, but they achieve the same purpose of tackling children’s health problems cost-effectively.

UNICEF’s flagship report The State of the World’s Children 2008 released Jan. 22, 2008 in Geneva, says the health needs of women, mothers and newborn children must be a priority if the MDGs are to be met. The new information in The State of the World’s Children 2008 is drawn from household survey data as well as material from key partners, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

“The world has seen progress in child survival and with the right partnerships, policies and programmes, even more can be achieved,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman. “The challenge is to reach the millions of children and families who continue to go without adequate, preventative and curative care.”

UNICEF believes that the G8 industrialized nations must address child health as not just a moral imperative but also a development priority.  And experience has shown that the benefits of community health spread far beyond just children. The Kenya bednet campaign, for example, has improved the country’s productivity, because malaria is the primary cause of workplace absenteeism. In Turkmenistan, where children like Atabay Uzbayev, 13, no longer have to worry iodine deficiency disorder, they can plan for the future. “I want to get higher education when I grow up. I want to enter the university and study math,” said Atabay.

This story is adapted from an article by Chris Niles entitled “UNICEF flagship report says community health programmes are key to reducing child mortality” published in New York on 22 January 2008.


For other stories about malaria, see:

Hedge funds do business against malaria

Cross-border cooperation reduces malaria risk in southern Africa

Malaria Vaccine Initiative works to provide hope for saving lives

Sri Lanka is close to eliminating malaria as a deadly scourge

Ground-breaking malaria findings may aid drug, vaccine development

MalariaEngage hopes social networking will bring funds to African researchers

Cell phone can monitor HIV and malaria patients, test water quality

High speed computer networks kickstart new anti-malarial drug development

Mobile phones and FrontLineSMS help contain malaria in Cambodia

Mapping malaria risk in Africa leads to more effective malaria control

Health care by mobile phone helps parents save childrens’ lives in Congo

New global map shows where malaria could be better controlled, or eliminated

Leaders of Africa’s faith communities work together to prevent malaria deaths

Malaria's bitter pill made sweeter for children

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