WaterAid backs action plan on killer diseases

New global action plan to eliminate the two main killer diseases of children - pneumonia and diarrhoea – launched by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.

11 Apr 2013

WaterAid today announced its support for a new global action plan launched by UNICEF and WHO which will for the first time tackle the two biggest killer diseases of children under five – pneumonia and diarrhoea. The plan aims to end preventable childhood deaths from these diseases by 2025, which would save 2 million child lives a year.

Barbara Frost, WaterAid Chief Executive, said:

Coordinating efforts to combat pneumonia and diarrhoea will have an enormous impact on stopping children dying unnecessarily. With 60 million children born into homes without access to adequate sanitation every year and 24 million born in homes without clean drinking water, a global effort to address the diseases and their causes is long overdue.

No single intervention can control, prevent or treat either pneumonia or diarrhoea according to the Action Plan. The new approach calls for increased action and the combining of development programmes in areas that are proven to work, such as hand-washing, clean water, sanitation, vaccinations and breastfeeding.

Yael Velleman WaterAid Senior Policy Analyst for Health said:

If we are serious about ending the unnecessary deaths of nearly 5,500 children a day from the two leading killer diseases, then a substantial shift is needed in how poverty reduction efforts are coordinated across aid agencies, donors and governments in developing countries.

Aid programmes need to bring together different areas of work, such as access to drinking water, health and education, to make them more effective. At the moment there is scant evidence that this is happening.

The new plan calls on governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in the poorest and least-served population groups. Nearly 90% of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths in children currently occur in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Alongside over a hundred development charities, WaterAid has signed a joint statement in support of the new Action Plan that declares:

'We can save countless lives by using an integrated approach to fighting disease, improving access to proven interventions and by prioritising efforts to reach the poorest and most marginalised children. As the latest data demonstrate, the GAPPD provides the most cost-effective approach and will help achieve the greatest impact in reducing child deaths.'

The statement has recommendations for developing country governments, businesses and donors. For more details, please use the links on the right hand side of this page.

Read live reaction from the launch and view the presentations and videos of talks (from Friday 12 April):