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Bangladesh Interventions Help To Reduce Child Mortality Rate; Global Health Specialists Discuss Child Mortality at Conference

Global health specialists on Tuesday at the Global Health Council 2009 conference in Washington, D.C., hailed the success of Bangladesh’s oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and immunization programs, which have played a major role in reducing the country’s child mortality rate, the New Nation reports.

Ron Waldman, team leader of USAID’s pandemic preparedness unit, said, “The successful dissemination of ORT backed by community based intervention in Bangladesh has significantly reduced child mortality from diarrhea.” He said that family planning programs and immunization projects have also helped to promote child survival. Waldman said that ORT is among only four or five public health interventions that are known to have produced a “grand success.” He said that breastfeeding and growth monitoring interventions should be given more attention and would further lower deaths rates among children younger than age five.

At the conference, UNICEF’s Chief of Health Peter Salama highlighted several health concerns that contribute to child mortality rates in developing countries. Salama said pneumonia is a major killer of children younger than age five, and he said management of the disease at community levels – rather than from the traditional global health centers in developed countries – had produced good results. Salama also identified health service delivery as a barrier to successful health outcomes, according to New Nation.

Richard Greene, director of nutrition for USAID, said that the world economic downturn and global warming are putting children at a higher risk for getting certain diseases and making them more susceptible to starvation. He said ORT use has dropped more than 10% in many countries, which could impede the achievement of the U.N. Millennium Development Goal target dealing with child survival (New Nation, 5/28).  

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