Despite the availability and proven effectiveness of vaccines and antibiotics, many children in the Philippines, especially those in poverty, are dying from preventable and treatable diseases. Although child mortality in the Philippines has decreased slightly over the last decades, there is still a long way to go for children’s welfare to be truly secured in the Philippines. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that an estimated 6.2 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 years, 5.4 million of which are under 5 years old, died in 2018 alone.
Leading Causes of Death Among Children
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “more than half of under-5 child deaths are due to diseases that are preventable and treatable through simple, affordable interventions.” The leading causes of death among children include pneumonia (and other acute respiratory infections), diarrhea, and infectious diseases such as whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis, and others. Vaccines have played a significant role in decreasing the number of cases caused by these illnesses, however, health care is still not always accessible for everyone. It also does not help that vaccine hesitancy has become one of the top global health threats in 2019.
Neo-natal (0-28 days) mortality is also rampant in the Philippines, where it stood at 13 deaths per 1,000 live births as of 2013. Factors such as lack of sufficient medical care before and at the time of delivery can increase the risk of complications and infections that cause death or illness for the mother or the newborn child. One major determinant of neonatal death is premature birth (born before the 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed), which caused 12% of child deaths in 2017. Congenital defects or anomalies, defined by WHO as physical or genetic disorders that are present at birth, caused 9% of child deaths in 2017 as well.
Child Mortality is a major threat to children’s rights and welfare. The government should provide accessible and appropriate prevention and medical care for children, which is why the UN Sustainable Development Goals includes the target to end preventable deaths by 2030. Children under 5 years old are the most vulnerable to different fatal illnesses, but there are various ways to adequately protect them such as breastfeeding, vaccines, and vitamins. However, all these cannot be achieved unless everyone —and we mean EVERYONE, no matter the financial status or societal class, are educated properly and have access to good healthcare.