Volume 26, No 2

Demetre Labadarios

The triad of diarrhoea, pneumonia and stunting1,2 is the most deadly combination, especially early in a child’s life, and if a child survives it in the short term, he or she remains prone to its effects later in adult life.3 Globally, it is estimated that in children under the age of five years, pneumonia and diarrhoea are responsible for 29% of child deaths, amounting to 2-million children, 90% of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.1 Global estimates indicate that 165-million children under five years of age (26%) were stunted in 2011. Although current estimates reflect a significant, and most welcome 35% decrease from the estimated 253-million children in 1990, stunting remains at stubbornly high levels globally, and equally so in South Africa.4 On average, approximately one in three children who are younger than five years of age is stunted in Africa and Asia, which accounts for 90% of the world’s stunted children.