CANCUN/NEW YORK, 16 August 2004 – Several thousand paediatricians from around the world heard from UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy today about an innovative approach to child health care taking place in West Africa.
Doctors, medical professionals and other frontline health experts are participating in the International Congress of Paediatrics taking place from the 15-20th of August, in Cancun, Mexico.
The new UNICEF programme, called Accelerated Child Survival and Development, or ACSD for short, packages an array of health services attempting to bring care right into people’s homes.
“I am pleased to report that a multi-country effort to more effectively bundle child survival services is showing very encouraging results in West Africa. The program…employs highly localized approaches to delivering a national package of interventions, using careful pre-analysis of bottlenecks and extensive engagement with local communities,” said Ms. Bellamy.
UNICEF has partnered with national governments, with Canada being the main sponsor of the Africa-effort, to support the active implementation of ACSD to reduce infant, under-five and maternal mortality. The programme currently focuses on more than 16 million people in selected districts in 11 countries in West and Central Africa that have high under-five mortality rates.
There is hope of duplicating this effort in other developing countries outside Africa.
“This kind of field-testing is what UNICEF does best: testing new approaches, finding out what works, and sharing what we learn so that successful strategies can be used widely. We are optimistic that the work being done in West Africa will help provide new approaches to the challenges we face in child survival,” said Ms. Bellamy.
What does ACSD do for child survival?
The ACSD programme is an integrated, results-based approach that includes the Expanded Programme on Immunization, prevention and case management of the main childhood killer diseases, and antenatal care. ACSD expands coverage of proven cost-effective interventions. It focuses on women and children integrating interventions at the facility, community and family levels. This includes supporting the mother before birth.
Some of the actions UNICEF is incorporating into ACSD are tried-and-true methods of health care assistance. These include encouraging more breast feeding, use of bed nets to prevent malaria and therapeutic feeding for the malnourished.
Part of what’s new is the bundling of these items together in a way that best suits individual, family and local needs, so as to bring more health knowledge and education into the lives of those served. This will help bring about real ongoing improvements in health.
ACSD assesses what is best for the mother, child and family, and then supports them in getting the best overall treatment and care. It aims to bring health care into people’s homes by giving them an overall assessment of their health needs, in addition to any specific treatment they are getting at a local health clinic or hospital.
The challenge is to deliver better health care to the mother and child using a realistic on-the-ground analysis of what is needed for today, tomorrow and beyond.
Goals of ACSD
Child survival (Link to PDF report on Child Survival) addresses the major causes of under five mortality, especially diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARI) and malaria with an integrated set of interventions related to child health, nutrition, water and sanitation.
Every year more than 10 million children under the age of five die from totally preventable causes. The ACSD programme looks to improve rates of child survival by placing health care resources and knowledge in the hands of mothers for the benefit of their children. The accelerated efforts on behalf of child survival aim to quicken the decrease in child deaths.
UNICEF is actively working to reduce the number of deaths and is seeking to engage doctors and others who are on the ground treating families in need of proper health care.