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In Ethiopia, 18 percent of children die of pneumonia while 9 percent die due to diarrhoea making the diseases among the major contributors to mortality in the country. According to a report released by UNICEF, Pneumonia and diarrhoea together kill 1.4 million children each year, many whom live in lower and middle-income countries.

The report underlines that these childhood deaths occur despite the fact that both illnesses are largely preventable through straightforward and cost effective solutions like exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, quality primary healthcare and reducing household air pollution.

“We have seen clearly that air pollution linked to climate change is damaging the health and development of children by causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections,” said Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director.

“Two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines, with many falling ill and dying as a result. World leaders meeting at COP22 can help to save children’s lives by committing to actions that will reduce air pollution linked to climate change and agreeing to investments in prevention and healthcare,” Ndiaye said.

Currently in Ethiopia, all the interventions to prevent and treat both diseases are accessible to the wider community through the health extension workers who are providing preventative and selected basic curative health services to the communities at the health-post level.

Statistics shows that, since the year 2000, nearly 34 million children have died from pneumonia and diarrhoea. If further investment is not poured into key prevention and treatment measures, it is estimated that 24 million more children will die from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 2030, the report warns.

“These illnesses have such a disproportionately high impact on child mortality and are relatively inexpensive to treat. Yet they continue to receive only a fraction of global health investment which makes absolutely zero sense. That’s why we’re calling for increased global funding for protective, preventive and treatment interventions that we know will work to save children’s lives,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director also said.

Studies also show that approximately 80 percent of childhood deaths linked to pneumonia and 70 percent of those linked to diarrhoea occur during the first two years of life. It also shows that low- and lower-middle income countries are home to 62 percent of the worlds under 5 populations, but account for more than 90 per cent of child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths globally.