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Coordination Essential To Success In Reducing Child Mortality

“Efforts to end … preventable child deaths will only be successful when integrated packages of interventions are available to the population most at risk,” Yehuda Benguigui, child health team leader for USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “USAID’s [MCHIP] supports two well-established and relatively simple strategies to address the most common causes of child deaths: Integrated Management of Child Health Illnesses (IMCI) as a means to treat children at basic health facilities and Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM), which extends case management of childhood illnesses beyond health facilities so that more children have access to life saving treatments,” he states, adding, “Many countries have adopted one or both of these interventions; however, their successful implementation in health facilities and communities has been challenging.”

“These challenges,” such as having well-trained health care workers but a lack of medical supplies or vice versa, “are well understood by national governments, donor agencies and implementing partners,” Benguigui writes, adding, “And yet, as an international community, we have not established systematic ways to address or improve these situations.” He continues, “At the heart of these problems is coordination — we could avoid programmatic and funding overlap, and have adequate allocation of resources by improving coordination (or at least complement the available resources to support the strategic plan of the Ministry of Health). In this way, we could achieve a suitable operational plan for each country, subdivided by geographical areas, with the participation of all institutions and with proper coordination with national health authorities.” Benguigui uses the Latin America and Caribbean Newborn Health Alliance as an example of coordination, and he concludes, “With initiative and leadership, this structure can be replicated elsewhere. And with the current levels of attention on and funding for reducing child deaths, there is no reason why other regions and technical areas cannot adopt a similar approach” (9/25).