David Beckham today appealed for the world not to turn a blind eye to "shocking" child mortality rates in developing nations as he returned from a visit to a poverty-stricken west African country.
He said tens of thousands of young children were dying every day across the world, mostly from preventable conditions.
His comments followed his visit as United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) goodwill ambassador to Sierra Leone, a country where more than a quarter of children die before their fifth birthday.
"We can't turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of young children who die every day in the developing world mostly from causes that are preventable," he said.
"In Sierra Leone, one in four children dies before reaching their fifth birthday - it's shocking and tragic especially when the solutions are simple - things like vaccinations against measles or using a mosquito net to reduce the chance of getting malaria".
"Saving these children's lives is a top priority for UNICEF and as an ambassador I hope I can help to draw attention to this issue across the world."
During his four-day visit, he spent time at a health clinic learning about the most common causes of these deaths, such as malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and TB.
He joined two health workers as they travelled into a local community to vaccinate children unable to attend the clinic.
At a feeding centre for severely malnourished children he saw babies who had survived on water because their mothers were undernourished and unable to breastfeed.
Unicef UK executive director David Bull said: "We are grateful to David Beckham for shining the spotlight on the unacceptable number of young children who are dying often needlessly in Sierra Leone and other developing countries".
"Everyone can play a role in changing this situation governments, donors and the public".
I am so proud of him, and knowing the sensitive man/father that he is I am sure he shed a tear or two.
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