Globally about 16,000 children under the age of five die each day—most from preventable conditions associated with poverty. That’s a staggering number. At that rate, this means that more than 11 children die unnecessarily every single minute.
While illnesses such as the common cold, pneumonia, and diarrhea are easy to treat in the developed world, for children from the world’s poorest families, these conditions often prove fatal. Other diseases such as malaria and parasitic infections disproportionately affect the global poor. Among victims of these diseases, children under the age of five have the highest mortality rates and the slowest recovery times.
Economic inequality is directly tied to childhood mortality rate: the poorer a child is, the more likely she is to die from a preventable health condition. According to the 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals Report, in developing regions, the under-five mortality rate is two times higher for children from the poorest families than it is for those born into the richest families.
Children living in the poorest parts of the world are also disproportionately affected by diseases associated with poverty. This is particularly true for boys and girls in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. This year, half of under-five deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly a third occurred in Southern Asia.
At The Life You Can Save, we envision a world where all families will be able to celebrate their little boy’s first birthday, or their five-year old daughter’s first day at school. These are milestones that all families, no matter where in the world they reside, should be able to look forward to and cherish. Our charities work in diverse development areas, but all of them are united by the fact that the work that they do for the world’s neediest children is evidence-backed, rigorously tested, and proven to get money, supplies, and services to the children who need help the most.
Over two billion people don’t get necessary vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin A, folic acid and iodine in their diets. Micronutrient malnutrition, often referred to as “hidden hunger,” leads to preventable blindness, increased rates of miscarriage, maternal death during childbirth, birth defects, compromised immune systems, and cognitive and developmental delays. Project Healthy Children’s (PHC) micronutrient fortification programs are some of the most cost-effective ways to make sure that each child survives the early years of childhood, and reaches his or her full physical and cognitive abilities.
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) combines world-class research, national government partnerships, and large-scale implementation to dispense cost-effective deworming treatments through local school programs. Parasitic infections have life-threatening effects--and can often be fatal in children under five years of age. Distribution of deworming pills costs on average 80 cents per child treated.
Possible is a pioneer in durable health care, which combines the best of private, public, and philanthropic models. Possible provides free and cost-effective health care services to Nepal’s rural poor in partnership with government medical programs. A $100 donation would provide high-quality, low-cost healthcare for four children through Possible’s medical programs.
Childhood health and education are directly correlated with lifelong earnings in adulthood. Oxfam’s worldwide school lunch programs give children a head start in life by keeping them nourished and encouraging them to stay enrolled in school. A $100 donation to Oxfam could provide school lunches for two children for an entire year.
More than 16,000 children die each day in the developing world, due to conditions associated with extreme poverty. Effective media outreach campaigns to influence healthy behavior change have been proven to save one in five of these lives—that’s roughly 3,200 children saved each day. Development Media International’s (DMI) average DALY (disability adjusted life year) averted is estimated to be $2 to $15—making educational media outreach one of the most cost-effective anti-poverty interventions.
Children under the age of five are especially vulnerable to malaria infection, have high fatality rates, and slower recovery times. In 2013, children under five accounted for 78 percent of worldwide malaria deaths. According to the World Health Organization, insecticide-treated bed nets are the most effective way to prevent malaria infection in children. Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) distributes low-cost bed nets for as little as $4 per net, which can protect up to two people for three to four years. To date, AMF has distributed 5 million nets and is in the process of distributing 6 million more.
Nearly 2 billion people—including 25 percent of households in the developing world—are at risk of developing iodine deficiency. Of those, 34 million are infants and newborns. Globally, iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable brain damage, and has especially harmful effects upon developing fetuses and young children. Complications arising from iodine deficiency include miscarriage and stillbirth, increased infant mortality, and childhood stunting. Global studies suggest that on average, iodine deficient communities suffer an average loss of 13.5 IQ points in the population. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Iodine Global Network (IGN)’s universal salt iodization programs bring this necessary nutrient to billions of people across the globe, and help to ensure that each child reaches his or her full cognitive and physical potential.
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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