Pneumonia and diarrhea kill 1.4 million children annually

A UN report revealed that two curable and preventable diseases, pneumonia and diarrhea, are actually the leading causes of death among children throughout the world. Most of the cases occur in third-world and developing countries.
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Illusion Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

When the subject of morbidity in developing countries comes up, most people immediately think of diseases such as AIDS, malaria and typhoid. However, despite how serious these diseases are, it turns out that they are not the leading cause of death in the world. According to a new report released by the UN, two curable diseases, pneumonia and diarrhea, kill more children annually than all other diseases combined.

In Western countries, these diseases are considered relatively non-serious and treatable. However, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recently released a report that indicates that 1.4 million children throughout the world are killed annually from these two diseases, making pneumonia and diarrhea the deadliest diseases among children.

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According to the report, most of the cases occur in developing or third-world countries. “These illnesses have such a disproportionately high impact on child mortality and are relatively inexpensive to treat,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye said in a statement. “Yet they continue to receive only a fraction of global health investment which makes absolutely zero sense.”

Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under 5 years old. In 2015 alone, almost a million children were killed from the disease, more than malaria, tuberculosis, measles and AIDS combined.

The report also indicates that nearly half of the pneumonia cases among children are caused by air pollution. Thus, the organization has urged the world leaders to discuss this matter during the upcoming UN climate talks in Morocco. “Two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines, with many falling ill and dying as a result," Ndiaye stated.

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