More than 34 million children have been saved from an early death over the last 15 years by healthcare costing an average of less than £2,700 in the poorest countries, according to new research.
A study by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle and United Nations officials credited the US Government for saving 3.3 million children under the age of five – the highest figure for a single body, The Guardian reported. The UK saved 1.7 million while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation saved 1.5 million.
In total, poor and middle-income countries spent $133bn (about £85bn) on child health and saved 20 million young lives, while wealthier nations and private donors spent $73.6bn (about £47bn) and saved 14 million.
Dr Christopher Murray, director of IHME, highlighted the low cost of saving a child’s life in the world’s poorest countries. For example, in Tanzania and Haiti, it was an average of just $4,205 (about £2,694).
“I was surprised how, on average, remarkably inexpensive saving child lives is,” Dr Murray said.
“You can spend $4,000 (about £2,560) on many different things, but there are very few places where the money would deliver the kind of impact you get by investing it in child health.
“If you invest in the poorest countries, you will see the biggest impact in child health because the cost of things like nutrition programmes, vaccines and primary care are lower.”
He and other experts have drawn up a ‘scorecard’ of spending on child health by governments and private donors, which will be published in the latest edition of the Lancet.
Gavi, the global vaccines funding group, was credited with saving 2.2 million children’s lives, while the World Bank and Unicef each saved more than a million.Reuse content