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Surveillance, Mortality Data Critical To Ending Preventable Child Deaths

Project Syndicate: How Autopsies Can Save Children’s Lives
Scott Dowell, deputy director for surveillance and epidemiology at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations last September, the international community has pledged to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five by 2030. And yet, in the regions with the highest mortality rates, we lack the most basic information about why children die. … The [Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS)] program … will allow us to record causes of death more accurately and track progress as vaccination campaigns and other measures are introduced. … [E]ach site [in the program] will help build the capacity of partner countries’ public health systems, providing valuable data and technical support that will have an impact far beyond helping to reduce child mortality. For example, the surveillance centers will generate the data needed to tackle infectious diseases, provide early warning of epidemics, and generally improve global health. … By accurately tracking the causes of child mortality, we can target treatments more precisely and usher in a new era — one in which preventable child deaths really will be a thing of the past” (3/21).

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