Diarrhea and Pneumonia costing millions of avoidable children’s deaths
Two quite simple conditions to treat effectively in the UK, but when transplanted to poorer developing countries, the effects of diarrhea and pneumonia can be deadly, on a very large scale. Unicef has just released a report highlights the 2 million children a year that die because of these preventable diseases. Reading this in the UK, what strikes as difficult to comprehend is that the interventions are simple. This is not the realm of molecular diagnostics or high-tech scanners – this requires unglamorous solutions that are available and effective. For example, vaccines for the infections causing the diseases such as Haemophilus influenza tybe B and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are available, but need to be administered in comprehensive vaccination programs to be effective. Other measures are harder to measure and instigate since they are behavioral changes. With water quality such a health issue, promoting breast-feeding, hand-washing and providing access to safe drinking water can make a significant impact on number of cases of diarrhea. Pneumonia relies on vaccinations more than preventative measures since the environment of slums and farms present the risk. There is potential for improvement in vaccination programs, despite the challenging settings of rural and urban areas.
Once these conditions are dealt with, these countries will be a position to embrace new therapeutic and diagnostic technology for more complex diseases. But until children can avoid or survive diarrhea and pneumonia, there is no spare capacity to develop programs for many other diseases