Each year, nearly 9.7 million children around the world die from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Many of these children could have been saved with simple affordable measures, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Reuters reports (reuters.com, 1/22). Though the annual global child death toll is below 10 million for the first time, more than 26,000 children still die each day.

In its annual report The State of the World’s Children, released January 22, UNICEF warned that Africa, South Asia and the Middle East are not on track to meet a United Nations goal to reduce child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. Meeting this goal would mean fewer than 5 million child deaths around the world annually.

“There is no room for complacency,” said UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman. “More needs to be done to increase access to treatment and...to address the devastating impact of pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, severe acute malnutrition and HIV.”

According to UNICEF, the battle lies in working to raise children’s life expectancy in countries heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, weak governance and poor health systems, Reuters reports. UNICEF says measures such as breast-feeding, vaccinations and the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets could help to reduce child deaths.