Champs to Fight Child Mortality

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is launching a network of disease-surveillance teams to conduct child autopsies in poor countries, with an initial investment of $75 million, it announced yesterday.

The effort, aimed at learning more about the causes of child mortality and help detect disease outbreaks, will start with small teams in 6 countries, to be expanded eventually to as many as 25 Asian and African countries. The teams will visit families after the death of a child to conduct a verbal autopsy and, if permitted, photograph the bodies and take needle biopsies from organs. The network, which will include the CDC and Emory University’s Global Health Institute, will be known as the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance, or Champs.

The Quote: “If it can be done in a culturally sensitive way, so that parents will permit the biopsies and the photographs, we could learn a whole heck of a lot,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of Vanderbilt University’s medical school department of preventive medicine.

The New York Times

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