Survive 5 day

5 MAY 2013 | WORLDWIDE

Survive 5 day: Closing the gaps in child health

Hosting organization: World Vision International

10 MAY 2013 — Every day 19 000 children under the age of five die from preventable and treatable causes. This week PMNCH Board Member World Vision International mobilized people in more than 30 countries to demand action from their leaders on child health, kicking off worldwide activities on 5 May (5/5) with “Survive 5 day” and releasing a new report entitled Within Reach: Ending Preventable Child Deaths.

World Vision is seeking to build on the momentum of “Survive 5 day” at the upcoming World Health Assembly, where health ministers from across the globe will vote on a resolution on the implementation of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. If this resolution is passed and implemented it could save the lives of 6 million children and mothers over the next five years. World Vision is calling on health ministers to endorse and pass this critical resolution, and on leaders to recognise communities as active stakeholders in national and sub-national implementation of this resolution.

Empowering mothers, families and communities

Over the past two decades, the number of children dying under the age of five each year from preventable or treatable conditions such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, birth complications and newborn infections has fallen by a dramatic 42%. Despite the encouraging progress, the poorest and most marginalised communities are being left behind. It is in these communities that the bulk of child deaths are concentrated, yet barriers persist which prevent them from using healthcare services.

Within Reach: Ending Preventable Child Deaths argues that these children can be reached. The report highlights an often overlooked strategy that is key to keeping children healthy: engaging and empowering families and communities in taking control of their own health. Mothers, caregivers and families need to know how to prevent and treat sickness. They need to have a sense of ownership over their child’s health by being able to take responsibility for it. Families and communities act as frontline health workers for child health and survival.

Strengthening momentum for collective action

More than ever before, the global community is uniting to save women’s and children's lives through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and other child survival movements and initiatives, such as Every Woman Every Child, A Promise Renewed, UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea, and the upcoming Global Newborn Action Plan. These all present concrete opportunities to put children, families and communities at the very centre of efforts to reduce child deaths amongst those once thought to be out of reach. The success of these efforts should be measured not only by the supply of medicines or by national policy change, but also by the ability of families to prevent illness and get the medicines they need to treat their sick child at home; or by the strengthened relationships between families, communities and health staff to improve the quality of health services.

Governments, donors, organisations and civil society can all move towards a more deliberate focus on: promoting healthy practices and demand for quality healthcare through mobilising and partnering with communities; advocating for the empowerment of communities to participate in decisions that affect their health; and using community-based strategies such as community case management by community health workers, to treat childhood illness.

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