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Trying not to neglect diseases at the World Health Summit

I am at the World Health Summit in Berlin. The Sabin Institute organised one of the first sessions here, on Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Save the Children was kindly invited to speak which gave me a chance to talk about some of the ways our work touches on these topics.

Whether it’s school health activities or our efforts in strengthening health system, as well as make the case that building functioning responsive health systems is more important than seeing competition between different diseases.

Our focus

One challenge that I faced was how to reconcile our chosen focus on child mortality with the Neglected Tropical Diseases.

These diseases, mainly unheard of in rich countries, are not significant causes of child deaths but have a huge impact on children’s ability to study, to thrive, to find opportunities to improve their lives.

It was a chance to reflect that, as well as focusing on children’s right to survive, Save the Children is also fighting for their right to development and education.

Millions of preventable deaths

It is clearly right to have priorities and, at this moment in history, we have to keep a focus on the preventable deaths of millions of children each year.

It is right that we encourage governments, donors and health organisations to concentrate most of their resources and attention where they can make the biggest difference.

That means ensuring enough skilled health workers to support women giving birth and treat childhood illnesses.

But we have to make sure a focus on mortality is not too limited and that it does not make us think only of keeping children alive until 5 without thinking about their development as a whole.

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