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Ethiopia: Born to die? Not any more.

Pneumonia kills more children under the age of five than any other disease – more than malaria, AIDS and measles combined.

In Ethiopia alone, 360,000 Ethiopian children under five  die each year from easily preventable of treatable conditions like pneumonia.

The truth is these 360,000 young lives would have been saved through measures such as exclusive breastfeeding, eating nutritious food, and vaccines. A simple antibiotic treatment could have saved the majority of these 360,000 young lives.

This year Ethiopia has seen a major breakthrough for saving children’s lives. The government has decided to treat common childhood illnesses, including pneumonia, through Health Extension Workers, who will work closely with rural communities in providing basic healthcare.

If rolled out correctly, this intervention  could lead to a large reduction of the number of children under-5 dying in the next 5 years and could put Ethiopia on track to achieve Agenda 4 of the Millennium Development Goals.

A significant number of the 360,000 children born to die will now have a shot at life.

The EVERY ONE campaign has been instrumental in bringing the issue of maternal and child mortality to  the fore. To commemorate World Pneumonia Day on 12 November we’re planning on sending media packages to all media outlets in the capital Addis Ababa containing basic information on pneumonia. Our pneumonia-related public service announcements are being aired on all radio stations in Ethiopia and will continue throughout November.

And we’re supporting a poem writing competition among ninth graders on pneumonia and preventable childhood deaths followed by a question and answer session. We will be asking everyone involved to declare all Ethiopian children are now born to live and thrive, not to die.  What will you do?

Hiwot Emishaw is the Every One campaign coordinator in Ethiopia.

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