Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Charity warns of risk to children

Hundreds of millions of children are at risk from preventable diseases because they never see a health worker, a charity says
Hundreds of millions of children are at risk from preventable diseases because they never see a health worker, a charity says

Hundreds of millions of children around the world are at risk of dying from preventable diseases because they are never seen by a health worker, a report has said.

According to research by charity Save the Children, more than 350 million youngsters will never see a doctor, nurse or any healthcare professional.

The report, No Child Out Of Reach, makes a stark comparison between children in the UK who are seen by a health worker at least 10 times before their fifth birthday, with millions of children in Africa and Asia who die every year from diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Save the Children hopes the report will resonate with world leaders who are gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York, and the charity wants to see a major push to secure funding to fill a global shortfall of 3.5 million health workers.

Brendan Cox, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children, said: "It is simply not acceptable for a child to die because a midwife or a nurse is out of reach.

"Training health workers is simple and inexpensive, yet their impact is immense. Hundreds of children's lives will be saved by the vaccinations a health worker administers, or by the trained help they can give to pregnant mothers.

"World leaders must put an end to this scandal and ensure that all children, regardless of where they are born, are able to see a health worker when they need it the most."

According to the charity, African children have access to just 3% of the world's health workers.

Children are five times more likely to die before their fifth birthday if they live in countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Liberia - which fall below the World Health Organisation health worker threshold of 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people - than children living in countries with enough health workers.

The report said progress is possible with political will and investment, highlighting Bangladesh and Nepal as examples where greater investment in community health workers has reduced the number of children dying.

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