MAY 2014

Renewing Our Muskoka Commitment: Reducing child mortality through vaccines and micronutrients

“Pneumonia and Diarrhea can be prevented and cured. Yet, for too long they have been the leading cause of global deaths among children. We know what to do, and we have made great progress – but we must do more. We must scale-up proven solutions and ensure they reach every child in need” –Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations Over the last 20 years child mortality has consistently decreased yearly. But despite these achievements, we are still falling behind on our goals to reduce child and maternal mortality (Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5). Sadly, in 2012 alone, over six millions children died from preventable causes, including Pneumonia and Diarrhea.[1.] Pneumonia and Diarrhea alone are responsible for 29% of the deaths of children under five years old –that equals 2 million children per year![2.] Pneumonia and Diarrhea are often the result of poverty, lack of access to routine immunization or health services, and lack of sufficient vitamin A and other essential micronutrients, like zinc. Investing in vaccines and micronutrients has proven to be great investments to combat Pneumonia and Diarrhea and to reduce child mortality rates.

Investing in cost effective and proven SOLUTIONS

In 2010, Canada led the G8 countries to launch the Muskoka Initiative gathering $7.3 billion dedicated to Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) programmes with Canada investing a total of $2.85 billion between 2010 and 2015.[3.] Through the Muskoka initiative, Canada funds the delivery and development of vaccines and micronutrient supplementation through the GAVI Alliance and Micronutrient Initiative . Thanks to investments in MNCH, 700,000 more children have lived to their fifth birthday in 2011 than in 2010, and maternal deaths have declined sharply in 125 countries in the past five years.[4.] There are several vaccines that protect against pneumonia, including pertussis, measles, Hib, and pneumococcal, all of which are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for inclusion in routine childhood immunization programs. Despite WHO recommendations and the life-saving impact of vaccines more than 22 million children globally still lack access to routine immunization leaving them vulnerable to preventable disease. [5.] Micronutrient supplementation is essential for prevention and treatment of Diarrhea. Oral Re-Hydration Salts and Zinc are part of the highly effective treatment against diarrheal infections.[6.] Additionally, two high-doses of supplementation of vitamin A per year increase protection against diarrhea and respiratory infections, among others ailments. It is calculated that micronutrients have a return investment of $30 for every $1 spent.

Reaching the hardest to reach children with community health treatment

N´Goné is a Senegalese volunteer community health worker trained to provide care for children suffering from malaria and diarrhea in her village of N´Gomène Keur Atou. N´Goné regularly treats children who suffer from diarrhoea and advises treating the diarrhoea with zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS).Using zinc, along with ORS, to treat diarrhoea not only helps children recover from diarrhoea faster, it also helps to stop the diarrhoea from coming back so often. N´Goné is part of a volunteer community health pilot project that provides training to ensure that remote communities have access to health care. If successful, the project will be scaled up across Senegal.[7.]

A renewed Canadian commitment to the world’s children and mothers

As the Muskoka Initiative ends in 2015, we ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to consider the renewal of Canada`s commitment to children and mothers with an increase to Muskoka funding to $3.25 billion over the next 5 years.. Furthermore, this new phase of Muskoka has to ensure that we reach every woman and every child. From May 28 to May 30, 2014, Canada is hosting the “Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach” high-level Summit in Toronto. The Summit will bring together stakeholders, experts and global decision-makers from governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to take stock of the progress made to date and discuss the way forward.[8.]
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