The Scaling Pneumonia Response INnovaTions (SPRINT) Project aims to scale proven interventions for the treatment of pneumonia: Amoxicillin dispersible tablets and oxygen therapy.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious disease in children worldwide, claiming the lives of over 800,000 children under five each year. Yet, it is preventable and treatable with two key products: Antibiotics, to treat pneumonia, and Oxygen, to support the recovery of children with severe pneumonia.
However, ensuring these products are accessible to children is challenging, with many countries facing obstacles at different levels within and outside of the health system. For example, one country may have antibiotics on the market, but in formulations that require refrigeration which many families do not have. In another country, oxygen may be available, however, the needed equipment for delivering oxygen may not be available in sizes appropriate for children.
800,000 children every year
Pneumonia kills more children than any other infection, claiming the lives of over 800,000 children under five every year
4.2 million children
with severe pneumonia in low and middle-income countries urgently need oxygen to survive each year
2 key products
Timely access to two proven lifesaving interventions – oxygen and the antibiotic Amoxicillin DT – can save the lives of thousands of children every year
In 2018 UNICEF launched the Innovations to Scale Initiative to invest in proven life-saving interventions. This was the start of SPRINT - UNICEF’s systematic response to expanding access to essential pneumonia treatment.
With the understanding that both antibiotics and oxygen are vital to treat pneumonia, the project focuses on building and applying the SPRINT model, a country-level triaging tool for the scale up of oxygen therapy and amoxicillin dispersible tablets. The model analyzes country specific bottlenecks and recommends appropriate solutions to accelerate the scale up of these essential commodities and strengthen the systems needed to deliver them.
Since the end of 2019 the SPRINT model has been applied by experts in Senegal and Ghana. For oxygen, this means ensuring all needed pieces of the oxygen system are in place, for example, by using UNICEF’s oxygen system planning tool and technical specification and guidance manual for procuring oxygen devices. For amoxicillin, this means high level advocacy to ensure the dispersible tablet (the recommended pediatric formulation) is available at the community level, as this has been proven highly effective to prevent child pneumonia deaths.
The ministries of health in Senegal and Ghana are currently introducing SPRINT in targeted districts together with UNICEF, with plans to use the model for continued national expansion beyond the targeted regions and districts. In the coming years, UNICEF hopes to continue to replicate the model in additional countries with high numbers of children dying from pneumonia.
With over 70 years as a global leader in fighting for children’s rights, UNICEF has gained a high level of trust by governments which places the organization in a unique position for facilitating implementation of the model and creating systematic change.
COVID-19 and SPRINT
As COVID-19 causes pneumonia, SPRINT is directly linked to the response. UNICEF has been an active and leading player in the global response efforts and is currently providing oxygen equipment to over 90 countries globally.
Governments are facing urgent challenges in successfully expanding access to oxygen. Through SPRINT, countries can better understand what is required for a rapid and sustainable implementation of oxygen systems. In Senegal and Ghana SPRINT has helped lay the groundwork for the COVID-19 response, where oxygen equipment has been purchased through UNICEF and delivered to locations to treat patients.
Expanding access to both oxygen and amoxicillin during COVID-19 also helps maintain operations of essential health programmes for childhood pneumonia and maternal & newborn care, thereby reducing the risk of deaths that occur when critical programmes fall by the wayside during a pandemic.