head of Tdh's health programme
“Technology holds incredible promise for health to address the issues of child deaths.”
“5.4 million children under the age of five died in 2017. Even if this figure is much better than in 1990, 15,000 children still die every day due to diseases that are often preventable and treatable through simple, affordable intervention. The burden remains concentrated in two regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. In these zones, the probability of dying before the age of 5 reaches an unacceptable rate: one out of ten.
Focus on perinatal health
Of the 5.4 million children, half die within the first month of life with about 1 million dying on the first day of their lives. Additionally, there are the neglected 2.6 million of stillbirths and 300,000 maternal deaths. Therefore, investing in the health of mothers and children around birth is fundamental. According to a WHO estimate, more than 60 countries will miss the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing neonatal mortality to at least 12 deaths per 1000 live births by 2030.[i]
In 2018, the Lancet Magazine clearly pointed at quality of health care as one of the major drivers to save many young lives and those of their mothers. In the health posts of the poorest remote areas in the world, the health personnel are neither skilled nor properly trained and lack adequate instruments to work with.
Technology holds incredible promise for health to address these issues: it provides job-aid tools to improve diagnosis, it can collect and process first hand data for better decision making and, when real-time, it can anticipate epidemic outbreaks, provide rapid tests to avoid shipping samples to distant labs and save money.
In the last few years, Tdh has invested in innovation with unprecedent results: millions of children are consulted by a digital job aid, accurate rapid tests are deployed to screen for deadly diseases during the consultation, artificial intelligence is deployed to improve health care management and machine learning is used to improve diagnosis. As nutrition-related factors contribute to almost half of the deaths in children under 5, Tdh uses a digital approach to link the treatment of malnutrition to the management of childhood illnesses. All of this has the ultimate goal to strengthen healthcare systems and save children lives. “