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UNICEF Innovation

ARIDA (Acute Respiratory Infection Diagnostic Aid)

Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under five. Pneumonia is treatable, but advanced diagnostic tools are often not readily available in low-resource health settings. Timely and appropriate intervention can save children.


In 2014 UNICEF published a Target Product Profile (TPP) to specify ARIDA requirements.

Since the launch of the TPP, UNICEF has been in discussions with different developers of ARIDA devices. Product clarifications beyond the TPP are available here.



Every day, 2,500 children under five die from pneumonia, accounting for up to 16 percent of all under-five deaths. Many of these deaths can be prevented through timely diagnosis and treatment; however, diagnosing pneumonia can be challenging, particularly in remote and low-resource areas. The WHO Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) guidelines recommend using respiratory rate (RR) to diagnose pneumonia in children with difficult breathing. An analysis of health care providers indicates that RR counting is difficult and could be improved with an RR counter that automatically determines respiratory rates. Finding an improved diagnostic tool that can be implemented in the most vulnerable communities and health systems can empower frontline health community workers (FLHCWs) to provide timely, appropriate treatment to those who need it most. UNICEF refers to these as Acute Respiratory Infection Diagnostic Aids (ARIDA).

The project

 The UNICEF and “la Caixa” Foundation ARIDA project aims to identify devices capable of automatically counting the number of breaths per minute of children affected by pneumonia. These devices could be the key to combat this infectious disease in under-five children. Accurate diagnosis is one of the hardest parts of dealing with pneumonia, as it is frequently misdiagnosed for other febrile illnesses, such as malaria or tuberculosis, which delays life-saving treatment. Childhood pneumonia deaths can be prevented and the ARIDA project aims to support just that by:

1. Improving the diagnosis of pneumonia through the use of innovative solutions that automatically measure the respiratory rate (RR);
2. Increasing access to Amoxicillin DT and oxygen therapy for treatment;
3. Investing in capacity-building of FLHCWs as they can have a significant impact in reducing child mortality by timely diagnosis and correct treatment; and
4. Raising awareness through advocacy and sensitization campaigns which would, in the medium to long term, strengthen global action and the Sustainable Development Goals agenda to end child deaths from pneumonia by 2030.

In 2014, UNICEF published a Target Product Profile (TPP) to specify ARIDA requirements. The TPP requires that devices, at a minimum, can do automated respiratory rate counting, but also indicates the interest in having other physiological monitoring, such as pulse oximetry. By automatizing the counting of breaths, the hope is that more children will have their respiratory rate counted, enabling community health workers to make a more informed and rapid pneumonia diagnosis. In addition, use of portable pulse oximeters that identify children with severe pneumonia in urgent need of oxygen therapy can save lives.  If successful, both RR and RR-pulse oximetry ARIDA devices will aid FLHCWs who are often the first point of contact for children with pneumonia in obtaining more timely diagnosis of pneumonia, allowing them to improve treatment plans which will consequently reduce preventable child mortality.

In 2016, UNICEF submitted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development of the field trial protocols and implementation of the ARIDA field trials, for which Malaria Consortium was awarded a Long-Term Agreement. The collaboration between UNICEF and Malaria Consortium will involve acceptability field trials and implementation evaluations for all regulatory approved, commercially available ARIDA devices, specifically ARIDA automated respiratory rate and ARIDA respiratory rate and pulse oximetry devices. 

Related information

Cannes Lions, ‘la Caixa’ Banking Foundation and UNICEF announce the winner of the 2017 Young Lions Health Award (June, 2017)

First-hand learning on pneumonia work in Nepal to inform alliance with "la Caixa" Banking Foundation (May, 2017)

Visiting Nepal – Why we need new pneumonia diagnostics (March, 2017)




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