Millions of children die each year, many from causes that could be prevented, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. At Save the Children, we strive to ensure that no child will die from preventable causes before his or her fifth birthday.
- 16,000 children under five die each day, many from causes that could be prevented.
- Each year, nearly 3 million babies die in their first month of life.
- One child in five misses out on routine immunisations, leaving them exposed to deadly illnesses.
Our work in China
Mobile Phone-Based Management System Raises Child Vaccination Rates
Vaccination is an effective means to lower the child mortality rate of those under five. However, due to various factors, child vaccination rates are relatively low in some remote areas. In China’s distant mountainous regions, it is typically a challenge to maintain accurate records of child vaccination, primarily because of a lack of computers in village clinics to connect with the health authority’s system. If parents forget to bring a child’s vaccination record to the clinic, it is impossible for village doctors to determine whether the child should receive a vaccination or which vaccination should be given.
To improve the situation, Save the Children developed a mobile phone-based information system to meet the practical needs of villages. The app allows primary health care workers to use a mobile phone to access and input a child’s basic information and vaccination records in the health authority’s system. Village doctors can also send messages via a mobile phone to children’s guardians to remind them when to take their children to receive vaccinations. The system also serves to transmit health knowledge.
When the system was introduced in Xuanhan County of Dazhou City in Sichuan, Save the Children provided training to the local medical workers and village doctors who work on child vaccination in clinics, helping them learn how to use it. Every village doctor was provided a mobile phone with the system installed. Since inception, its impact has been significant. Not only has the system improved vaccination management, but it also has raised children’s vaccination rates. In 2018, infants under one year old in Xuanhan County that have received all needed vaccinations account for 93.19% of all infants – the highest among the five counties in Dazhou.
At the end of 2018, the Disease Control Centre of Dazhou City entered into contractual cooperation with a technology firm, planning to promote this mobile app in the other four counties of the city, striving to enhance the capacity of vaccination management.
Our work in Africa
Emergency Health Unit – Transforming the Way We Deliver Frontline Emergency Healthcare
Juliet*, 30, and her newborn daughter Maita* are from Binga district in Zimbabwe, which has been gripped by a severe drought and food crisis. When Juliet recently became pregnant with Maita, she was faced with an agonising situation. Her local clinic was forced to close the maternity unit due to low water levels and power cuts. Juliet couldn’t afford the transport cost to the hospital, but was extremely stressed about giving birth at home because her first baby died tragically during birth.
“I went into labour while I was here at home. The baby didn’t cry when I delivered her. I was thinking my child would die like my first one. I was in deep pain. I cried because I thought I had lost my baby,” said Juliet.
Luckily, baby Maita was born safely in this case – but there is no guarantee. In 2020, Save the Children officially launched our Emergency Health Unit (EHU)’s travelling field hospital to ensure that families caught in emergencies don’t have to face these difficult situations. The field hospital has a brand new Mother & Baby Unit that will help mothers like Juliet deliver their babies safely, even if local services are unavailable.
The EHU was established in 2015 to ensure we can provide life-saving healthcare to children in the most difficult and dangerous places. It is a mobile network of health teams across the world, which we deploy to ensure we have the right people, in the right place, ready to act. As of June 2019, the EHU had reached more than two million children and adults with vaccinations, health and nutrition services.
Save the Children Hong Kong provided instrumental support to the new Mother and Baby unit by funding an obstetrician-gynaecologist, essential equipment, as well as a stock of essential medicines. The dedicated Mother and Baby Unit will be a lifesaving intervention where women in emergencies can access comprehensive maternal and newborn healthcare, no matter what the setting.
*Names changed to protect identity
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