The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), in partnership with the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, will support the establishment of CHAMPS in South Africa.


“CHAMPS will provide clarity on what is causing deaths, determine the clinical relevance of viruses and determine the bacterial causes of pneumonia. The South African government is eager for the opportunity to reduce child mortality.” - Dr. Shabir Mahdi, NICD Executive Director




Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa, has a population of more than 1.2 million people. It is one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Johannesburg, with high unemployment and significant health challenges.

The Soweto area is served by the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the largest in the southern hemisphere. The hospital sees approximately 24,000 births per year – the majority of Soweto’s 28,000 annual births. Throughout South Africa, pregnant women and children under the age of 18 receive free medical care.

However, despite access to health care, up to 50 percent of child deaths occur at home. Most of these deaths are sudden and unexplained, with many never receiving a clinical cause of death determination. This results in a lack of understanding about why young children in Soweto are getting sick and dying, and often leaves families with unresolved questions.

Infant mortality in Soweto is higher than other areas of South Africa – 53 out of 1,000 children die before they reach one year old. HIV, tuberculosis, rotavirus, pneumonia, and other infections are thought to account for many of these deaths.

In Soweto, CHAMPS works with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), whose mission is to provide knowledge and expertise on regionally relevant communicable diseases, as well as assisting in the planning of health policies and programs, and supporting responses to communicable disease issues. From June 2015 to February 2016, NICD piloted a study of minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) for 270 cases of under-five mortality.