With an unprecedented commitment that bridges the urgent need to address diarrheal disease with unique opportunities to overcome it once and for all, leaders in global health issued today's Declaration on Scaling-up Treatment of Diarrhea and Pneumonia. PATH joins the US Agency for International Development, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Micronutrient Initiative, and others in raising a collective voice, calling for investments to scale-up the use of proven tools, particularly oral rehydration solution, zinc, and amoxicillin.
"We call on all high-burden countries and the international community to join [our] commitments to provide the resources, political will, and focused action necessary to end preventable childhood diarrheal and pneumonia deaths. We believe that working together we can ensure all children with diarrhea or pneumonia receive these life-saving products and reach their fifth birthday," the partners declared.
The declaration adds to the momentum this week in global health and development, highlighted by a Child Survival Call to Action on June 14-15 in Washington, DC. Country leaders and global health experts are convening to re-affirm their commitments to combine today's tools with tomorrow's innovative approaches and overcome the diseases that threaten the lives of children every day, particularly diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria.
In advance of the Call to Action, UNICEF released a report last week that underscores the magnitude of the threat posed by diarrheal disease and pneumonia, the urgency to step up our efforts, and the proven, affordable solutions that can prevent needless deaths. The UNICEF report, Pneumonia and diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world's poorest children, details that pneumonia and diarrhea are leading killers of the world's youngest children, accounting for 29 percent of deaths among children under age 5 worldwide – or more than 2 million lives lost each year.
"The Call to Action and the UNICEF report highlight that tackling the top killers that endanger children's health – such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria – will make the most immediate impact," commented Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH. "We have tools in hand and many others close to ready that can save lives and create a cycle of health and prosperity for children and communities around the world."
"Child mortality stifles the promise and potential of our communities, but this does not have to be the case," said Dr. Vu Minh Huong, senior team leader for immunization and manager of the Enhanced Diarrheal Disease Control Initiative for PATH's Vietnam Country Program. "We know how to help our children grow strong and relieve the strain on their families. Today's commitments are so encouraging—global and country leaders recognize that diarrhea and pneumonia are still major problems, but we can overcome them today if we work together."
PATH's work in low-resource countries of Africa and Asia is improving access to the simple solutions that can defeat diarrheal disease—revitalizing the use of oral rehydration solution and paving inroads for broad distribution of zinc. We are equipping health workers with comprehensive insight and basic yet powerful tools for treating diarrhea and pneumonia, including urgent rehydration and zinc for diarrhea, antibiotics for pneumonia, and education on nutrition, sanitation, and home care that can prevent severe illness in the future. The declaration highlights these critical tools as essential to partnerships among governments, civil society, and the private sector undertaking an integrated strategy to overcome diarrheal and pneumonia deaths.
Global attention to child survival
Diarrhea and pneumonia are among several scourges—also including, malaria, and HIV/AIDS—targeted in an ambitious campaign highlighted today through the release of the Child Survival Call to Action and related events in Washington, DC. Convened by the Governments of the United States, Ethiopia, and India, and organized in close collaboration with UNICEF, the Child Survival Call to Action focuses on ending preventable child death through the survival of newborns, children, and mothers. Seven hundred prominent leaders from government, the private sector, faith-based organizations, and civil society today kick off a long-term, focused effort to save children's lives.