Page last updated at 00:55 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 01:55 UK

Aid group in child mortality plea

Child in drought-stricken Bihar, India, Aug 2009
Funds would stop children dying from treatable diseases, the agency said

Dramatically reducing global child mortality would cost much less than people around the world think, an international aid agency says.

Launching its biggest-ever campaign, Save the Children said $40bn (£25bn) would radically lower the number of children who die of treatable diseases.

The agency said there was insufficient pressure on governments to act, because people thought it would cost much more.

It said about nine million children aged under five died each year.

Illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhoea or the lack of a trained midwife were often the cause, Save the Children said.

India accounted for a fifth of infant deaths worldwide, it said, because health care did not always reach those in need.

A lack of skilled health workers - both at a child's birth and in the months after - left children there vulnerable to problems that could be prevented or treated for a "very small investment", campaign director Adrian Lovett told the BBC.

Progress towards reaching the UN goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 was far too slow, the agency said.

In a survey spanning 14 countries, it found that many people thought making an impact would cost $400bn.

In fact only a tenth of that - channelled into maternity care and tackling preventable diseases - would make a significant difference, the agency said.

"The pressure to push world leaders to act simply isn't there, partly because of public perceptions that it's too costly to do anything about it quickly," said Charlotte Petri Gomitzka, the agency's secretary general.

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