- In 2019 an estimated 5.2 million children under 5 years died mostly from preventable and treatable causes. Children aged 1 to 11 months accounted for 1.5 million of these deaths while children aged 1 to 4 years accounted for 1.3 million deaths. Newborns (under 28 days) accounted for the remaining 2.4 million deaths.
- An additional 500,000 older children (5 to 9 years) died in 2019.
- Leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia/trauma, pneumonia, congenital anomalies, diarrhoea and malaria, all of which can be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions including immunization, adequate nutrition, safe water and food and quality care by a trained health provider when needed.
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- Older children (5-9 years) had one of the largest declines in mortality since 1990 (61%), due to a decline in infectious diseases. Injuries (including road traffic injuries and drowning) are the leading causes of death among older children.
Vaccines and Immunization
Immunization is a global health and development success story, saving millions of lives every year. Vaccines reduce the risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds.
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We now have vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. Immunization currently prevents 3.5-5 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles.
Immunization is a key component of primary health care and an indisputable human right. It’s also one of the best health investments money can buy. Vaccines and Immunization are also critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks. They underpin global health security and will be a vital tool in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.
Yet despite tremendous progress, vaccination coverage has plateaued in recent years and even dropped for the first time in a decade in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions over the past two year have strained health systems, with 23 million children missing out on vaccination in 2020, 3.7 million more than in 2019 and the highest number since 2009.
Preliminary data from 2021 show continued disruption but more positively, by the end of 2021, nearly all countries had introduced COVID-19 vaccination, and by early 2022 one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been delivered through COVAX.
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