UN agencies launch plan to eliminate pneumonia and diarrhoea deathsListen /
Two United Nations agencies have launched a new action plan to eliminate child deaths due to diarrhoea and pneumonia over the next 10 years.
The Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children's agency (UNICEF) calls for closer integration of efforts to prevent and treat the two diseases.
WHO says the plan aims to save the lives of up to 2 million children under the age of five each year through scaling up availability of essential medicines and vaccines and promoting good nutrition and a clean environment.
Dr Elizabeth Mason from WHO says countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Pakistan and Tanzania are already reaping the benefits of better coordination of prevention and treatment programmes.
"Getting the simple treatments to all children is absolutely critical. We are not talking about expensive treatments. We are taking about oral rehydration salts, which are less than a few cents per sachet, zinc tablets which are less than a few cents and antibiotics. Combining these we have an approach called protect, prevent and treat. And integrating those three we believe that the targets set within this plan are achievable. And in this respect, we are saying that pneumonia in children under five should be fewer than three per 1000 deaths and for diarrhoea fewer than 1 per 1000 deaths."
WHO says although diarrhoea and pneumonia are preventable, up to 6.9 million children die every year from the diseases mostly in the developing world.
Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio Geneva.