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UNICEF Corporate and Philanthropic Partnerships

La Caixa Foundation

La Caixa Foundation has partnered with UNICEF since 2000 supporting various programmes and emergency relief interventions


Saving Children’s Lives from Pneumonia Deaths through Innovative and Sustainable Solutions

The collaboration between the “la Caixa” Foundation and UNICEF began almost two decades ago. Since 2000, the Foundation's support has been key to UNICEF's work in the fight against child malnutrition in Mauritania and Ethiopia; promoting access to education in Sudan; the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV / AIDS and the treatment of children affected by the virus in Burundi; and immediate response to emergency situations in Somalia, Haiti and the Philippines.

UNICEF and the “la Caixa” Foundation signed an agreement in 2015 with an ambitious goal: to reduce infant mortality from pneumonia through innovation. Pneumonia is the leading cause of mortality in children under 5 years of age worldwide, with approximately 800,000 lives lost every year. Every 39 seconds a child dies from this disease.

Despite pneumonia being a preventable, treatable and curable disease, there are no tools that can be easily used across all levels of the health system, particularly in low resource settings. Better diagnostics are needed to allow community health workers and volunteers to quickly identify if a child is breathing too fast, a clear indicator that they have pneumonia. To solve this problem and guarantee access to an adequate diagnosis, the “la Caixa” Foundation and UNICEF signed the Aid for the Diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARIDA) program.

Through this program, the Foundation has allocated 4.6 million euros to develop and test two new technologies that can automatically count a child's breath per minute and measure oxygen in the blood. Thanks to these technologies, three ARIDA devices have been designed, which have been tested in three different countries to help health personnel diagnose pneumonia (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Nepal). The findings of these field studies have generated relevant knowledge that has been shared with the scientific community through several articles published in specialized media (two case studies from Ethiopia published in Acta Paediatrica and in JMIR Research Protocols, a case study from Nepal published in Acta Paediatrica and a study on both countries published in JMIR Research Protocols).

Thanks to the ARIDA program, thousands of children have benefited from a strengthened health system, with trained health personnel and new tools to help them diagnose and treat pneumonia. To date, about 1.3 million children have had access to antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, more than 308,000 children have benefited from improved health care and 6,175 health workers have received training and materials to use the devices in Bolivia, Ethiopia and Nepal.

In addition, the ARIDA program supported the first global conference on childhood pneumonia, “Fighting for breath: The Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia” which took place in Barcelona in January 2020. World leaders and experts in pneumonia attended this event, organized by different international actors specializing in childhood and health. The final declaration of the forum can be found at this link.

Given the present COVID context, reinforcing the health system is critical to guarantee that services are not interrupted, preventing an increase in child mortality. The partnership is working in Ethiopia in this regard, providing training for 1.200 community and facility health workers in SNNR and Tigray regions. The training will strengthen knowledge and provide tools to diagnose and efficiently treat mortal diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea or malaria.

Information about the project's achievements in Spanish can be found here. Additional information on the project is here.

Learn more about the impact of the project here.

About “la Caixa” Foundation

“la Caixa” Foundation works to build a better society in which the most vulnerable have more opportunities, developing solutions for social progress, education, science and culture. Its mission is to build a better and fairer society, providing more opportunities to those who most need them.

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