Newshub18:Why infant mortality cannot be prevented?Bil Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is one of the world’s richest people. He is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates is playing a role in global humanitarian activities through this organization. This American billionaire is vocal for backward, helpless people in different parts of the world. On September 6, he wrote on his website Gets Notes about the causes of infant mortality and ways to get out of it.
There is no greater measure of how a society is run than whether it protects children, especially the most disadvantaged.
Children dying of deadly diseases was a real fact, but it was only part of the reality. Where they were born was also a reason for the death of those children.
25 years ago I faced a question. I think about it literally every day since then. The question is – why do children die?
Before I talk about why I felt compelled to answer this question, I want to admit that talking about infant mortality is not easy at all. As a father, I still can’t imagine what would happen to cause us to lose a child. Even seeing the words ‘child’ and ‘death’ in the same sentence is extremely painful for me.
But I think, ‘Why do babies die?’ is one of the most important questions of all time. There is no greater measure of how well a society is run than whether it protects children, especially the most disadvantaged. The better we understand why children die, the more we can do to protect them.
The good news is that the world has made amazing progress in this field in the last few decades. Until 1990, the number of children who died every year has now dropped to less than half! If the improvement in child mortality is a good indicator of the global situation, then it must be said that despite the negative events including Covid-19, the global situation has improved dramatically in the last few years. Apart from that, as much as I am aware of new innovations and technologies, I can say that we will see more progress in this field in the coming years.
I first became familiar with the subject of infant mortality 25 years ago through an article published in the New York Times. The article was about the health problems caused by unsafe drinking water in low and middle income countries. I was shocked to learn that 3.1 million people worldwide die of diarrhea every year, almost all of them children. The main cause of diarrhea in those children was drinking contaminated water. Diarrhea is killing 31 million children? I thought, this can’t be true. I ask myself again – can? But that was the reality.
Then I felt the urge to know more about it. What other big disparities are there that I didn’t know about?
From then on, I started reading everything I could find about global public health. I started discussing the matter with as many experts as I could find. I found out that researchers only mean the deaths of children under the age of five by child mortality. They chose this age because the first five years are the most vulnerable of childhood; Children are most vulnerable and fragile at this time.
82 percent of deaths are due to infectious diseases
Knowing about the history of infant mortality, I can put these statistics into context. About two million children died in 1950. In 1990, this number dropped to 1.2 million, even though more children were born than ever before. By 2000, the number of child deaths had dropped below 1 crore. And by the year 2019, it comes down to less than 50 lakhs. In fact, all of those deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
Then the question arose – why so many children are dying?
About 18 percent of these deaths were caused by non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, heart and blood vessel problems. And the remaining 82 percent of deaths were due to infectious diseases. These included diarrhoea, malaria and physical problems from the mother, all of which were compounded by malnutrition. (Even today the ratio of deaths from non-communicable to communicable diseases remains 18:82.)
In one sense it was heartbreaking. The causes that caused the most child deaths were considered by citizens of rich countries to be a major concern (such as diarrhoea); And some diseases (like malaria) they had no experience at all.
In other words, the fact that children are dying of deadly diseases is only part of the reality. Where they were born was also a reason for the death of those children.
On the other hand, it was encouraging to know that most of these deaths are preventable. When I saw the incidence of diseases decreasing, I realized, ‘This is our path. This is where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation should work.
With the right workforce, partners, and funding, we can help the world act proactively against the biggest killers. Solutions that already exist need to be made more accessible and reach people in low-income countries. And focus on inventing what is needed, but not there.
Progress in child mortality prevention
It can be seen that pneumonia is the most important cause of infant mortality. There has been progress in this regard. Pneumonia killed more than 15 lakh children in 2000, by 2019 this number decreased to 670 thousand. This is still a very large number. But deaths have dropped by more than 55 percent. Pneumonia-related research and innovation is still going on. They moved me so much that I wrote a separate post and video about it.
Combating diarrhea is another example of progress. In the last two decades, the number of deaths from this disease has decreased by 58 percent. One of the main reasons for this is oral saline, which replenishes the patient’s electrolyte deficit.
In addition, governments in various countries have implemented large-scale sanitation projects to prevent the spread of bacteria responsible for diarrhea. Scientists, on the other hand, have developed an affordable rotavirus vaccine. The world has worked together to deliver this vaccine everywhere. Between 2010 and 2020, rotavirus vaccination prevented more than 200,000 deaths. The vaccine is expected to prevent more than 500,000 deaths by 2030.
Although deaths have halved, the top three causes of infant mortality remain the same. In the 1990s, neonatal morbidity, pneumonia and diarrhea were the leading causes of death, and this is still the case. But there has been a huge improvement in measles. In 1990, measles accounted for nearly 500,000 deaths, up from 87 percent
The reason? Vaccination Since 2000, GAVI (a vaccine alliance comprising the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank) has vaccinated more than 500 million children worldwide against measles. These vaccinations are given through special immunization programs along with regular immunization programs. (This is just one example of the positive side of vaccination.
But unfortunately the vaccination rate has decreased due to Corona epidemic and other reasons.) Apart from this, malaria will not remain at number 4 in the list of deadly diseases for long. Because, there have been various inventions including special types of mosquito repellents and mosquito killers including ‘sugar bait’.
May success come in saving the child’s life
Many are to thank for these decades of progress. Countries with high rates of disease have implemented large-scale immunization programs, improved health systems, and shared experiences with each other on the most effective methods.
On the other hand, rich countries have generously supported this effort. As pharmaceutical companies have harnessed expertise to innovate, they have developed affordable vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Other organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have stepped up to provide additional funding for new ideas and technology innovations.
While it is true that many children still do not live to see their fifth birthday, it is also true that the world is moving in the right direction.
If everyone does their part, we will move faster and save more lives. Because the UN’s target of halving child mortality (less than 3 million) by 2030 will not be achieved due to covid and other obstacles. But it is possible to achieve that goal in the next decade.
When wars and epidemics make daily headlines, it’s important to look at things to be optimistic about. The opportunity and ability of the world to protect the lives of children is certainly one such thing