Giving Children a Sure Start and a Healthy Childhood
As health leaders from around the globe gather for the Child Survival Call to Action, it is heartening to see India take a leadership role as co-convener of the Summit. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Health and Family Welfare for India, will help facilitate the two days of dialogue on how we can focus attention on protecting children from the leading killers of those below age five: diarrhea and pneumonia.
As director of PATH's India program, I am proud of our team's contribution to this goal. Our program is working to prevent disease through vaccines and immunization and improve the health of mothers and children. We are particularly excited about the results of our Sure Start program which reached almost 25 million people, leading to substantial increases in safe practices for pregnancy and infant care.
At the same time, we in India know that our country has one of the world's highest burdens of diarrhea and pneumonia, and that we all - government, civil society, private sector, and communities - have to rededicate ourselves to accelerating progress.
Who can argue with the Summit's organizing principle - that every child deserves a 5th birthday? This Call to Action is an opportunity for us to determine what steps we each can take to end preventable childhood deaths. That is why PATH is pleased to endorse the Declaration on Scaling Up Treatment of Diarrhea and Pneumonia, and commit our involvement in a “concerted global effort to end preventable child deaths from diarrhea and pneumonia in high-burden countries within a generation.”
The Declaration - and the UNICEF report last week - Pneumonia and diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world's poorest children underscore that we have the know-how and the solutions to save almost 2 million children's lives by 2015. By delivering an integrated package of services that includes vaccines, treatment, water and sanitation, and nutrition, we can help children stay healthy to become the learners and earners that will help them, their families, and their communities thrive.
-- Tarun Vij is PATH's country program leader for India.