Millions of Children’s Lives Can be Saved from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea through Coordinated Effort
Today, MCHIP joins more than 100 nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs), along with national and global experts to express their support for the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s first-ever global action plan to simultaneously tackle the two leading killers of children—pneumonia and diarrhea. This plan, linked with ownership by national governments and partners’ involvement, will make the plan a reality.
The Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) provides the strategies and evidence needed to significantly reduce childhood death and illness from pneumonia and diarrhea, which together account for nearly one-third of deaths worldwide in children under age five. The Global Action Plan calls on all parties to coordinate their approach to fighting these diseases, for which there are complementary interventions to provide protection, prevention and treatment. Having collected and analysed the most recent evidence on the impact of pneumonia and diahrrea interventions and country practices, The Lancet series, also released today, provides additional scientific underpinning for the GAPPD.
Lora Shimp, MCHIP Senior Immunization Technical Officer, speaks to the importance of the GAPPD and partner involvement:
"With the Decade of Vaccine commitments and recent Calls to Action for child and neonatal health globally and in countries like the US, India, Liberia and elsewhere, this is an opportune time to use the GAPPD guidance to address some of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in children and particularly in infants under 1 year. Through efficient use of pneumococcal (PCV), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and rotavirus vaccines, vitamin A, zinc, ORS, and other commodities, we can address MDG4. This requires commitment, support and focus on implementing the GAPPD and strengthening countries' routine health systems in partnership with communities."
The world’s leading NGOs and CSOs have expressed their commitment to working with countries and their partners to develop country-specific plans designed to achieve the greatest impact. MCHIP was actively involved in the development of the GAPPD. Experts from the Immunization and Child Health teams participated in the Regional Workshops on coordinated approaches to pneumonia and diarrhea prevention and control (co-organized with WHO and UNICEF in the Africa and SE Asia regions in 2011) and provided technical guidance and inputs into the GAPPD strategy and document. While the launch of this document is important to spread awareness of these causes of child mortality and suggestions on ways to address them, the road ahead is to adapt the GAPPD and put it into action in countries. The GAPPD lays out a detailed path of necessary action and coordination in order for the plan to move from a document to results in lower child mortality.
Next steps among key partners must include:
Prioritising the fight against pneumonia and diarrhoea;
Determining what concrete next steps, investments and partners are needed to achieve impact;
Identifying where needs and opportunities exist for coordination across sectors, ministries and partners;
Establishing transparent governance and accountability structures;
Focusing on and dedicating resources to reducing inequities; and
Engaging affected communities and partners and supporting their efforts to implement national plans.
Committing to producing quality, affordable treatments and vaccines in child-friendly formulations and presentations that are easy-to-administer and to improving distribution to ensure these products reach the most vulnerable children;
Developing and delivering improved water treatment and sanitation products; and
Conducting communications campaigns to reach families and health providers about best practices.
Bilateral organizations and donors:
Providing technical and financial support to countries adopting the GAPPD as part of their national child survival commitments.
WHO and UNICEF:
Harnessing their regional and national program staff to work with member countries on effectively implementing the GAPPD.
The launch of the Global Action Plan comes at a critical time, as the global community strives to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the 2015 deadline. While tremendous progress has been made and child deaths have plummeted in the last 20 years, too many children are still dying from pneumonia and diarrhea. Simultaneously tackling these two leading killers of children will have the single greatest impact on improving child survival. While stepping up efforts to meet MDG 4: a two-thirds reduction in child deaths, those working on the post-2015 development framework must continue to prioritise integrated approaches to improving child health, as outlined in the GAPPD, and set goals for expanding access to health care, safe water and sanitation.
Collectively around the world, we owe it to our future generation to protect these most vulnerable children from diseases and illnesses that can be prevented and treated.