Children first



A young woman close to me had her eyes full of tears the other day. Her 5 month old baby had coughed a lot during the night, for the first time in her short life, and she realized that she could lose him – she realized carnally, at the same time as she hugged her little body against her. plump, stirring and hot. It was not difficult to reassure her. Pediatric medicine is magnificent today in France. We perform transplants on babies, we save premature babies weighing less than a kilo, we operate on embryos in utero for spina bifida.

→ READ. Mehdi

The young Afghan girl whose story and example of integration in France I related a few weeks ago had, five years ago, a little girl who began to cough abnormally shortly after her birth. Mehdi did not know everything about the public services in his adopted country, but he knew that, when you have a sick baby, you can bring it at any time of the day or night to the pediatric ward of a hospital, without having to open your wallet first, as is the case in poor countries. Her little daughter has been hospitalized several times with bronchiolitis. She ceased to suffer from it the day her young parents were able to leave a cramped and damp home. She no longer coughs today and, from her impressive bronchitis, she has no after-effects. When you are a young woman or a young man reduced in his country of birth to a hopeless precariousness, how not to dream of a country where sick babies are treated regardless of the resources of their parents? How not to try everything to ensure to his children to come a health, an education, a life expectancy which can only be promised to them in the opulent countries?

Children under 5 are the most affected by health inequalities

An article by The cross, last November, looked like a nightmare. It was titled Climate: unprecedented scorpion attacks in Egypt. He reported that heavy rains, themselves caused by climate change, had caused the scorpions to come out of their holes.“Excited, in the survival phase, (the miniature monsters) sought shelter in the houses. ” We had never seen this in living memory (although in the Bible we have read this kind of story). What the article also said is thatscorpion envenomation is a real public health problem in North Africa», That in 1% to 5% of cases, the bites are very serious and “Require rapid placement in intensive care”, and “The victims are almost all children”.

The fact is, those under 5 are the most affected by health inequalities. According to Unicef, five million babies and children died worldwide in 2019 before reaching the age of 5. 800,000 were killed by pneumonia – the big cough in the small chest which hurts mothers so much, in their own chest -, 440,000 by diarrhea, 350,000 by other infectious diseases, most often in all beginnings of life. The worst part is that, for a third, these deaths of less than 5 years could have been avoided, with inexpensive drugs, better hygiene, or more maternities.

In 30 years, the number of baby deaths has fallen by more than half worldwide

In this huge cohort of little dead, most are African children. We know it so much that we forget it. Malaria, for example, kills mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and children under 5 years old. In 2019, 94% of malaria deaths worldwide were recorded in what WHO calls the African Region, that is to say in the 47 African member states of the Organization, and half of these deaths in six countries: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Niger. In the same year, of the 409,000 deaths due to malaria, 274,000 concerned children under 5, or 67%. And of these children victims of malaria, more than 90% were African.

→ READ. Malaria: WHO wants to deploy the vaccine on a massive scale for children

These overwhelming figures nevertheless reflect great progress. In thirty years, between 1990 and 2019, the number of infant and young child deaths worldwide fell by more than half, from 12.5 million to 5.2 million, while the world’s population grew. from 5.3 billion to 7.7 billion inhabitants. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, the situation has improved. Between 1990 and 2019, deaths of children under 5 fell from 3.8 to 2.8 million; and the under-5 mortality rate has more than halved, from 179 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 76 in 2019.

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