Shocking numbers of children are dying from illnesses that are entirely preventable, most of them in the first years of life. Every year, 5.4 million children under the age of five die from preventable causes.
Marginalised children are the most vulnerable as they lack access to quality healthcare, such as vaccines, medicines, or nutrients – all of which save lives. This is especially true in conflict and emergencies, or in poor and deprived areas, where the challenge of keeping children alive is heightened.
Girls and women often lack access to care or information during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. They can also struggle to access health services or be denied an education that would protect them from unwanted pregnancies.
Every day, our teams are saving lives in hard-to-reach communities – whether in war zones or remote villages. We train frontline health workers in communities to diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and newborn sepsis, empowering them to provide services that are proven to reduce child deaths.
We ensure the most vulnerable families have the funds to give their children the right kind of food and care needed to stay healthy. We ensure that expectant mothers and babies receive care and information before, during and after childbirth so that babies have the best chances of surviving, growing and developing. And we work with adolescents, their families and their communities to ensure that young people's particular health needs are met.
We also work with local and national governments to strengthen policies and systems so that no child dies from a preventable cause.
We reached 33 million children through our life-changing health and nutrition work in 2017. Six-month-old Exodus* is one of those children.
Baby Exodus and his mother, Stella, arrived at Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda after fleeing their home in South Sudan due to conflict, which killed Stella's husband.
When they arrived at the camp, Exodus was very ill. He was brought to our emergency health team and was diagnosed with malaria. We provided him with immediate treatment and gave him routine childhood vaccinations to protect him from other illnesses. Today Exodus is healthy and his mother is hopeful for the future.