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Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) releases initial data to advance understanding of the causes of death in children under the age of five in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
October 31, 2018
For the first time, the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network is making available cause of death data from children under the age of five in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. CHAMPS cause of death data provide more accurate and precise information on infant and child deaths than is typically available and used.
“Right now, we know the parts of the world where most of the 15,000 daily deaths in infants and young children occur,” said Dr. Robert Breiman, CHAMPS executive director. “However, we often know very little about the specific causes of individual child deaths because we have scant and imprecise information. In the CHAMPS network, much more information is obtained on individual child deaths, and we are providing this to experts who use it to more precisely determine why a child died.”
The CHAMPS network currently involves sites in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, South Africa, and Sierra Leone – all places with high child mortality and relatively little information about the specific causes of infant and young child deaths.
The use of minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) provides CHAMPS the ability to more accurately and precisely determine the causes of death in children under five years old. MITS is one the most important, and unique, aspects of the CHAMPS data collection; it enables researchers to collect information without having to do infeasible and often culturally unacceptable traditional autopsies. In addition to the information from MITS, the expert review panels in the CHAMPS network use information from parents and caregivers (such as verbal autopsies) and medical records to determine the cause or contributing causes of a child’s death.
“The use of MITS greatly advances our ability to understand what actually caused the death of an infant or young child,” said Breiman. “We are able to find causes or contributing causes that would otherwise have not been found. Most importantly, with this information, local hospitals, clinics, and public health programs are better able to take actions to protect other infants and young children – and to do that more quickly.”
The initial CHAMPS data release will give researchers an opportunity to learn more about the information gathered at CHAMPS sites and encourage them to begin using it. As the CHAMPS network gathers more cause of death data and makes it available, researchers and child health programs will be able to help improve child health in the involved countries and regions by:
- Gaining knowledge and insights into more of the factors causing or contributing to deaths among infants and young children in the regions where the CHAMPS sites are located;
- Identifying relationships between different causes of deaths; and
- Targeting interventions and actions to prevent or reduce deaths in children under age five in the CHAMPS sites and the regions where they are located.