"The gap between the availability and the need for child-appropriate medicines touches wealthy as well as poor countries," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said Thursday. "As we strive for equitable access to scientific progress in health, children must be one of our top priorities."
The campaign targets medicines such as antibiotics and asthma and pain medication. It calls for further research and development of combination pills for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
WHO released an international List of Essential Medicines for Children containing 206 medicines that are deemed safe for children and address priority conditions. WHO medicine policy director Hans Hogerzeil said more than half of children in industrialized societies are prescribed medicines dosed for adults and not authorized for use in children.
In developing countries, the problem is compounded by lower access to medicines, the agency said in a release.
Six million young children die each year of treatable conditions and could be saved if the medicines they need were readily available, safe, effective and affordable, WHO said.