The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have launched a new action plan, tackling for the first time two of the biggest killer diseases of children under five in Nigeria – pneumonia and diarrhoea The plan aims to end preventable deaths of children in the country from these diseases by 2025, which would save over 241,000 lives a year.
WaterAid Nigeria spokesperson and Country Representative, Dr Michael Ojo, said: “This Action Plan is all about doing more of what we already know works: Increasing access to drinking water and adequate sanitation, promoting breast feeding, improving availability of vaccines and making sure that treatment is on hand when children need them.
“It is the responsibility of the Nigerian Government to embrace and implement the plan and the cost of inaction and failure is very high and will be measured in the lives of our children. But with the support and assistance of organisations like WaterAid and donors, we can succeed in ending these preventable deaths.”
Every year in Nigeria over 143,000 children under the age of five die of pneumonia, while over 97,000 die of diarrhoea Between them, they account for over a quarter (28 percent) of all the child deaths in the country.
The Action Plan calls for a substantial shift is in how poverty reduction efforts are coordinated in the country. Aid programmes need to bring together different areas of work, such as access to drinking water, health and education, to make them more effective.
Alongside dozens of 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 Global Action Plan on Pneumonia and Diarrhoea provides the most cost-effective approach and will help achieve the greatest impact in reducing child deaths.”
The statement offers recommendations for developing country governments, businesses and donors.