How will innovation save children's lives in 2019?
Wars, natural disasters and a lack of access to quality healthcare put the health of millions of children at risk each year. Standing up for this fundamental right will be one of the main challenges for child relief in 2019. Three issues for which Terre des hommes (Tdh) will rely on its expertise in the field and on innovation to help children.
Fight against malnutrition
The number of people suffering from malnutrition worldwide has increased steadily in recent years. Droughts due to climate change and increased conflict, both sources of malnutrition, leave little hope of reducing the trend in 2019. Children are the most vulnerable in food crises: according to the WHO, more than half of all deaths among children under the age of five are due to malnutrition. In South Sudan, where the majority of the population is suffering from hunger, we will continue our efforts to help children in the areas most affected by the civil war.
We will also use technological innovation to improve the quality of care for malnourished children, by developing our flagship project IeDA (Integrated eDiagnostic Approach). This mobile application for digital tablets has already proven its worth as a diagnosis tool in West Africa and will eventually serve to better assess malnutrition among children and monitor their health status.
Prevent cholera epidemics
Conflict can lead to other scourges than violence. “Overcrowding and poor hygiene in the camps, as well as the displacement of populations due to insecurity contribute to the spread of diseases such as cholera”, explains Bruno Pascual, Tdh water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in emergencies specialist. In Nigeria for example, families fleeing the Boko Haram terrorist group were subjected to a cholera epidemic in the internally displaced people’s camps in Rann at the end of 2018. Tdh, the only NGO with WASH expertise in the region, provided assistance together with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as soon as the first cholera cases were reported. While the epidemic has been contained in Nigeria, we remain vigilant. Our teams are ready to act and reinforce hygiene prevention in other emergency situations where epidemics may occur.
At the same time, we are developing tools based on real-time data collection and with the support of artificial intelligence to anticipate and prevent epidemics.
Save newborns and their mothers
Whether due to a lack of access to healthcare or a lack of sufficiently qualified medical staff, childbirth is too often marked by tragedy. Each year, 2.5 million newborns and 300,000 mothers die worldwide. Improving the quality of healthcare is vital in many regions, particularly those far from major urban centres. In Mali, we have created mobile units to teach staff in isolated regions basic first-aid techniques. Our SIMESONE project, which won the Balzan prize last year, will be rolled out to other parts of Mali and to other countries, such as Bangladesh. This innovative training tool for midwives contributes to improving the quality of childcare worldwide.
Photo credit: ©Tdh