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Child health: what should be done?
  1. Imti Choonara
  1. Medical School (Derby), University of Nottingham School of Medicine, Derby, UK
  1. Correspondence to Emeritus Professor Imti Choonara; Imti.Choonara{at}

Statistics from

Over 17 000 children under the age of 5 years die every day.1 The majority of these children die in either sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. Most of these children die from preventable causes, including gastroenteritis, pneumonia and malaria. Progress has been made in reducing child mortality with a 50% reduction in under five mortality between 1990 and 2013.1 This was however less than the two-thirds reduction target in the Millennium Development Goals. Although the majority of deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, there are wide disparities in child mortality between high-income countries. Child mortality rates in the UK are higher than in many other European countries.2 Similarly, the USA has higher child mortality rates than neighbouring Canada and Cuba.1 Additionally within countries, there are wide disparities in child mortality. The poorest, most deprived sections of the community have the highest child mortality rates. The new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include the reduction of poverty and inequalities as they recognise the link between socioeconomic factors and health.


The evidence base for ensuring children are healthy is quite extensive. Politicians and governments are aware that the following are key contributors to ensuring that children are healthy. They are all included within the SDGs.

  • Universal healthcare: In 1948, Aneurin Bevan, who was then Minister of Health, launched the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. It was based on three core principles: (i) it would be free at the point of delivery; (ii) it would be available to …

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