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Summary of Week 5

Summary of the week's learning and key issues in the field of child health from Dr Shunmay Yeung.
SHUNMAY YEUNG: Well, I really hope you’ve enjoyed this week. We’ve covered quite a lot of material, going from child mortality, beyond survival, and then looking to the future. To kick off with, we looked at some of the data on child mortality and examined what are the causes of child deaths in the age group of children under the age of 5. We learnt that infectious diseases have been the main cause and continue to be the main cause but also where we’ve made the most progress in the last 10 years, particularly in HIV, malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea. In the latter, pneumonia and diarrhoea, we still have a long way to go.
Probably about 95% of deaths from diarrhoea and about 2/3 of deaths from pneumonia are probably preventable. And in order to reach that potential, we’ll need to scale up some of the interventions that we already have and we know that work. But scaling up the selective interventions themselves probably won’t be enough, and we do have to take a much more comprehensive approach to child health. After looking at mortality, we went on to examining beyond survival and the importance of focusing on child development, child growth, and nutrition. We took nutrition a bit further and saw how nutrition doesn’t only affect the growth and development of the child him or herself but might have impacts on the next generation.
Still going with the themes of innovation, we asked Val Curtis to talk about behaviour change innovation in sanitation, breastfeeding, and hygiene. Finally, we wrapped up by looking at how some of the funding has been used in child health and projecting forward where that will take us and some of the difficult decisions that donors and policymakers, programme makers, have to make in terms of deciding how to invest in child health going into the future in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. So that’s our week on child health. I hope you enjoyed it.
And I hope you look forward to next week, where we bring all the bits of the life cycle together and take an integrated approach at women’s, newborn, reproductive and child health.

We have now reached the end of Week 5. We hope you now have a deeper understanding of some of the progress, challenges and future directions for child health.

Deaths in under-fives have almost halved since 1990. Excluding the neonatal period, infectious diseases cause most of the deaths in this age group, and much of the reduction in mortality has been driven by significant advances in combating malaria, HIV, measles, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

We have also demonstrated the importance of going beyond survival, highlighting the attention that must be paid to a child’s growth and development in relation to reaching future potential both in terms of health and beyond.

Finally we looked to the future. To make further gains in child survival and tackle new threats and challenges we will require innovative approaches, increased investments, scaled up interventions and strengthened health services, and only this will ensure that the most vulnerable children have access to life-saving treatments and preventative measures.

In the final week of the course we will bring each aspect of the lifecycle together and explore ideas for integrated approaches in the Sustainable Development Goal era.

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Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

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