Nearly 2 million children under five die every year of easily treatable diseases

Eight out of 10 people among the middle class do not know that nearly two million children under five die every year of diseases and conditions that are easily treatable and preventable, says a new survey.

The Global Movement for Children, a coalition of organisations that includes Save the Children, UNICEF, PLAN and CARE, and World Vision conducted a one month survey in five metros across the country to understand how this influential section perceives the issue. Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed felt that the problem was a serious one.

One-third of all malnourished children live in India and 44 per cent of Indian children are underweight. More than two-thirds of the infants die in the first month and 92 per cent of these deaths are due to easily preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea.

“It is indeed tragic that the majority of respondents underestimate the number of children dying every year. If people understood how affordable and feasible it is to prevent children dying, they would be shocked. There is no real pressure for action largely because of lack of awareness of the scale of problem,'' said Thomas Chandy, CEO, Save the Children.

Interestingly, 55 per cent of the respondents thought that the situation had improved.

The Global Movement for Children believes that a campaign targeting the middle class in India and shifting its attitudes from ‘acceptable/unavoidable' to ‘unacceptable/solvable' will create the pressure for policy change, implementation and investment in resources.

An overwhelming 92 per cent of those surveyed felt that it was feasible for India to achieve the millennium development goal of reducing under-five mortality. Eighty five per cent of the respondents had taken no initiative regarding child mortality.

The organisations, that commissioned the survey, are working to build public awareness about child mortality before a global United Nations Summit in New York in September.

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