Under-5 Mortality

SDG target: End preventable deaths of newborns and children under age five, with all countries aiming to reduce under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

Current data suggests that children are less likely to have severe disease from coronavirus infection than older adults. However, as coverage for routine immunizations decreases and case management for pneumonia and diarrhea have been interrupted due to the pandemic, children are increasingly vulnerable. Models predict that acute malnutrition will increase dramatically, which will make it harder for children to fight off infectious diseases. These consequences of the pandemic emphasize the need to figure out how to prevent secondary and tertiary crises.

Yet even now, lifesaving innovation continues. Vaccines exist to protect against many causes of pneumonia, the leading infectious killer of young children. But they can be expensive—they account for about half the budget of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Several months ago, however, the World Health Organization prequalified a new pneumonia vaccine that costs only US$6.00 for a three-dose regimen instead of US$9.00. And thanks to increased investment due to COVID-19, more health care facilities are providing access to oxygen to treat respiratory conditions; this will help save the lives of many children infected with pneumonia.

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