The Save the Children Fund

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
11.4 Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Save the Children welcomes the overall progress made by countries in reducing child mortality. However, on current trends, there will be more than 4 million under-5 deaths in the year 2030, with children in the poorest households at 34% higher risk. Almost all these deaths will be the result of preventable causes. Given the high proportion of neonatal deaths, countries urgently need to transform how they provide care for the most vulnerable newborns, especially those born small or sick. Millions of lives could be saved by investing in quality care for every newborn, including in humanitarian settings.

To our surprise, the report by the Director-General does not mention pneumonia as a leading cause of childhood mortality. Pneumonia claims the lives of more children around the world than any other infectious disease. Although the disease is largely preventable and treatable, at the current rate, by 2030 there will still be 735,000 children dying from pneumonia. Children in the poorest communities are disproportionately affected – they are less likely to be vaccinated and less likely to be taken to health facilities.

Countries should ensure strong, accessible primary health care for all communities, free at the point of use, combined with adequate nutrition interventions, for the effective prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.

Finally, we are concerned with the lack of attention to the mental health of children affected by conflict and in other humanitarian settings. There has been a sharp increase in the number of children living in conflict zones since the early 1990s, from around 200 million, to more than 357 million in 2016. Long exposure to conflict causes children to enter a state of “toxic stress”. We are calling on all partners to scale-up long-term mental health and psychological support for children and adolescents in conflict-affected areas and post-conflict contexts.