Child Health

Every year, millions of children under five die of preventable diseases. Pneumonia and diarrhea alone are responsible for 29 percent of these deaths. While daunting, the commitment of the global community to end this loss of life is achievable through simple, proven, and effective interventions. MSH works at the global, national, subnational, and community levels to expand immunization coverage and improve case management of childhood pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.

Immunization is one of the best ways to protect children from disease, yet one out of five infants—many from the poorest, hardest to reach, and most vulnerable families—are not vaccinated. At the same time, even though we know of effective treatment interventions, pneumonia and diarrhea claim the lives of two million children each year who do not receive the simple, life-saving treatment they need.

Strategies for tackling low immunization and deaths due to pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria include working at various levels— from government to the household—to generate demand for services, assure access to commodities, and strengthen health systems in the treatment of preventable illnesses. This includes expanding immunization services and training and supervising health care providers in effective treatment and case management protocols in both the public and private sectors.

To increase the coverage of routine immunizations, and the roll-out of new vaccines, MSH works with national and subnational governments through two approaches. We mobilize the community, educate the public, and eliminate social and financial barriers to increase demand for immunizations within the population. We also strengthen community outreach and immunization services in government and private health facilities.

MSH works at the global level as well as with national governments, health care providers, and community health workers to improve case management of childhood pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Our work includes community-based administration of oral rehydration solution and zinc for diarrhea treatment, the use of antibiotics for uncomplicated pneumonia, inpatient care for the treatment of severe pneumonia, and use of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria followed by treatment with artemisinin combination therapy for those who test positive.

  • At the global level, MSH, through the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program, is active in child health working groups of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. SIAPS guides and orients countries on case management and supply chain management at the facility and community levels.
  • In Afghanistan, MSH helped design a basic package of child health services at the district level and an essential package of services for provincial hospitals as part of the USAID-funded Tech-Serv project.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the USAID-funded Integrated Health Program (IHP) helped local health workers ensure that nearly 460,000 infants received three doses of routine vaccines before their first birthday, achieving nearly universal coverage within the target population between October 2013 and September 2014.
  • In Madagascar, MSH supported community health volunteers to treat 23,700 children under age five with acute respiratory infection, of which 52 percent were treated with antibiotics, in the first year of the USAID MIKOLO project.