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Essential medicines for children

15th August 2006

02052006_child&baby1.jpgA plan to boost access to essential medicines for children has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who have held the first international Expert Consultation on Paediatric Essential Medicines.

Effective interventions exist for some illnesses but there is a lack of knowledge of how best to use these medicines in children, and also a lack of paediatric formulations of them.  Ten million children die every year, many of them from diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS, respiratory tract infection, malaria or pneumonia.

More than 20 developed and developing countries, non-governmental organizations including Médecins Sans Frontières, regulatory agencies, UNICEF and WHO staff met from 9-10 August and prioritized a 'long-needed approach' to overall paediatric care.

The meeting called for a dramatic expansion of access to much needed child-focused formulations such as fixed dose combinations, imperative for children's correct use of medicines and treatment adherence.

The plan also calls for the improvement of medicines and prescribing guidelines addressing the entire range of infant and child care needs.

A high priority will be placed on ensuring a holistic approach to child care and treatment. Emphasis will also be placed on considering the climate zone requirements linked to distribution and use whenever new product formulations are made.

The plan will now be sent to countries for feedback on implementation of the  recommendations at the local level.

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