Maternal and Child Health & Malaria
More than 10 million children die every year from easily preventable causes such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. More than 500,000 women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, and an additional 15 to 20 million women suffer debilitating consequences of pregnancy. CHAI works to achieve large-scale and demonstrable reductions in mortality rates of young children and pregnant women across many of our programs.
In the past decade, remarkable advances have been made in treating and preventing malaria. Better medicines and long-lasting bed nets have been developed. Donor funding for malaria control has dramatically increased from $153 million in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2010. Indeed, the focus of many countries has recently shifted from malaria control to malaria elimination. Not surprisingly, this rapid infusion of new technology, increased funding, and policy reform has created a new set of challenges for the governments of malaria endemic countries. CHAI works in partnership with governments to address these challenges, creating evidence-based solutions tailor-made to each unique situation.
In April 2005, President Clinton launched CHAI’s Global Pediatric Program in 12 countries to confront the terrible fact that almost no children with HIV/AIDS were on treatment in the developing world. CHAI was a pioneer in rallying the global community to address this problem. At the time, conventional wisdom argued that it was too costly and too complex to diagnose, treat, and prevent HIV/AIDS in children. In just a few short years, we have helped to shatter that myth. Today, the percentage of HIV-positive children on AIDS treatment is nearly equivalent to that of adults.
Vaccines are among the best buys in global health. They are as close to a magic bullet as we have in preventing infectious diseases. Without vaccines, twice as many children around the world would die each year from diseases such as smallpox, polio, measles, and tetanus. Recently, two new vaccines have been developed with the potential to save the lives of an additional one million children annually from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Yet we still lack effective vaccines for some of the world’s leading infectious killers such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. This might change rapidly, however, over the next decade. Bill Gates, whose foundation has spent billions of dollars on vaccine research, predicts that “by the end of the decade, five or six new vaccines will be available to all countries at prices they can afford,” preventing an additional 10 million deaths by 2020.
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of 5. Despite the availability of simple, highly effective, and affordable treatment—zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS)—nearly 700,000 children die annually from diarrhea. In fact, less than 5 percent of children with diarrhea are receiving the recommended treatment. Health providers and consumers are often unaware that zinc/ORS is recommended, which creates a lack of demand. As a result, suppliers have limited incentive to invest in distribution and promotion of these products. In late 2011, CHAI launched a program to catalyze significant scale-up of zinc and ORS. Specifically, CHAI is working with governments and partners in four countries—India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda—to launch large-scale programs to overcome these market barriers and to significantly increase the percent of children with diarrhea who receive the correct treatment. At the global level, CHAI and UNICEF co-chair a working group of partners aiming to scale up diarrhea and pneumonia treatment in 10 high burden countries.