Diseases in children

Diseases in children

Malaria, asthma, diarrhoea, HIV, and tuberculosis are all diseases that can be prevented and treated. But they still kill a large number of children.

The main reasons kids die change as they get older. Malaria, asthma, diarrhoea, HIV, and tuberculosis are especially dangerous for kids under the age of 5. Non-communicable diseases, injuries, and conflict pose major risks to older children.

Even though they can be stopped and treated, many common infectious diseases still kill a lot of young children. About 30% of all deaths of children under the age of 5 around the world in 2019 were caused by pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. Children in the poorest parts of the world are hit the hardest, and deadly diseases are especially common in sub-Saharan Africa. 

This can be turned around. UNICEF works all over the world to protect children and keep them from getting sick and dying. We help countries improve their basic health care services, especially at the community level, and fight common infectious illnesses like malaria, asthma, diarrhoea, HIV, and TB.


Pneumonia kills about 700,000 children under the age of 5 every year. It is the top common cause of death among children under the age of 5. Every minute, a child dies from pneumonia in many places of the world, even though it is completely avoidable and easy to treat with medicines.

Pneumonia is a disease of inequity. It is most common in the world’s poorest people.

Children dying from pneumonia are often malnourished, don’t have clean water or toilets, live in dirty homes, or don’t have enough access to health care.

But there are easy ways to protect, avoid, and treat:

• Protective measures like exclusive nursing, enough extra feeding, and vitamin A supplements are the basis for keeping children healthy and free of disease.

• Vaccinations, less air pollution in the home, safe drinking water, good cleanliness, and good hygiene are all ways to keep kids from getting sick.

• Antibiotics are a very important part of treating pneumonia. In 2021, UNICEF gave antibiotics to 31.6 million children under one year old in 54 countries.


In the past few years, a lot has been done to reduce the number of children who die from diarrhoea. But diarrhoea is still one of the most common causes of death in young children, especially in emergency settings.

About 480,000 young children died of diarrhoea around the world in 2019. This was about 9% of all deaths among children under the age of 5. 

These children could have been saved by simple, effective treatments like oral rehydration salt and zinc. Oral rehydration salt can prevent about 70–90% of deaths caused by acute watery diarrhoea, and zinc is thought to reduce deaths from diarrhoea by 11.5%. Also important are getting enough water, nursing, continuing to feed, and using medicines carefully.

UNICEF gave out more than 93 million zinc pills and more than 30 million oral rehydration salt sachets all over the world in 2021. UNICEF also uses its tools and knowledge in health, nutrition, education, attitude change messaging, water, sanitation, and cleanliness to help avoid and treat diarrhoea.


Malaria ranks as the third dangerous health problem among infants and young children aged one month to five years, followed only by asthma and diarrhoea. In 2019, malaria killed about 274,000 children under the age of 5. This was about 67% of all malaria deaths around the world.

Malaria kills a kid every two minutes.

To get rid of malaria, the world needs to spend more, especially in research and development.

It is known that insecticide-treated mosquito nets are a good way to prevent malaria, and that a quick evaluation is important for treatment. UNICEF works closely with its partners to get important goods, like mosquito nets, quick diagnostic tests, and medicines to children who are most likely to get sick. Our work makes sure that sick children get care and treatment wherever they are, whether that’s in a hospital or through community health workers who have been trained and given the right tools.

Tuberculosis (TB)

Nyajime Guet smiles in Juba, South Sudan, where he was getting care for serious acute starvation and TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an illness that can be prevented and treated around the world. Still, more than 600 children under 15 die of it every day, which is almost a quarter million a year. Most of these deaths happen to kids under 5 years old. 

Countries have come up with ways to avoid, monitor, diagnose, and treat TB in adults, but children still fall through the cracks. Less than half of the one million children who are thought to get TB each year are found and registered by government schemes. 

96% of the children who die from TB have never been treated.

Children are also left out of attempts to get money. Even though they make up about 10% of all TB patients in the world, they only pay 3% of all research and development costs.

To deal with this problem, UNICEF works closely with governments and other organisations to make sure that TB prevention and treatment are part of plans for the health of children. We help countries improve basic health care in their communities, learn more about tuberculosis, and boost the systems that provide TB services like screening, vaccine, and treatment.