Globally, the four major killers of children under age five are pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, preterm birth complications, and birth asphyxia.
Medicine for a young boy at the SOS Clinic in Badbado, Somalia. Photo by Jens Honore
Pneumonia, influenza, and other respiratory diseases are the largest cause of death among children, accounting for 18% of all under-five deaths. The risk of transmission increases with over-crowding and air pollution, which affects an estimated 3 billion people in developing countries.
The second largest cause of under-five deaths is diarrhea, which could be reduced by two thirds with hygiene awareness and behavior change. It is estimated that improvements in hygiene, the quality of drinking and cooking water, sewage systems, and latrines could prevent approximately 1.5 million deaths annually from the underlying bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections causing diarrhea.
Malaria is the third largest cause of under-five deaths, causing about 16% of child deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is entirely treatable and preventable with the use of insecticide-mosquito nets and proper vaccination.
UNICEF reports that simple measures such as hand washing, breastfeeding, vaccinations, and proper sanitation would cut the child mortality rates due to illness dramatically.
How You Can Help
Children accross the globe suffer daily from treatable diseases. You can help put an end to their needless suffering by donating to SOS Children's Villages today.
- $25 can give 5 children the personal hygiene kits they need to prevent diseases such as diarrhea
- $35 can allow SOS to give a family of 10 three months worth of soap
- $75 can help 15 children receive life-saving vaccinations for malaria
- $500 can provide a community with 50 first aid kits
Case Study: Malawi
“The reduction in water borne diseases did not just occur by accident. We are taking the lessons we learnt seriously and implementing them at home. This is the reason why diseases have been reduced.” Development committee member, Malawi
In Malawi, 53% of households live below the poverty line while 47% of children under the age of five years are nutritionally stunted, 20% severely so. Irregular rainfall, inflated prices, and high HIV prevalence all contribute to continued food crises. Many of the communities affected by drought and food crisis cannot properly care for their children, as the social and economic pressures that come with HIV and food dearth are simply too overwhelming.
To combat social pressures and strengthen communities in Malawi, SOS Children’s Villages launched a program in the Tsabango region of Malawi which reached out to over 806 households and 1,718 orphaned and vulnerable children. The program in Tsabango, in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, allocated seeds, fertilizers, and chickens to 370 households and provided land for community gardens. As a short-term measure, SOS Children’s Villages also supplied food packs to 1,600 children in need. Many of these children also received writing materials, school uniforms, and school lunches to keep them healthy, happy and able to concentrate on their educations. In order to help strengthen the economy in Tsabango, SOS Children’s Villages has also implemented support and counseling initiatives for families to show them how to diversify and stabilize their incomes.
A boy awaits a check up at an SOS Emergency Relief Center. Photo by Jens Honore.
A mobile health clinic has also been provided to communities in Tsabango, in partnership with local organizations such as Paradiso. Many families who were deterred from proper medical care by the prohibitive cost of medicine are now receiving proper, consistent medical care. Furthermore, volunteers trained in home-based care have been raising awareness of such critical issues as HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and sanitation and incidence of waterborne disease has declined.
Stevens, Nicole. "More Than 7 Million Kids May Die From Preventable Illness This Year." What to Expect.
United Nations Children's Fund. "Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2011." (2011)