Emory spearheads global health surveillance program

By Paige Parvin | Emory Magazine | Sept. 8, 2015

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There are places in the world where children under age five die at a staggering rate—more than fifty of every one thousand live births. And in some areas, including parts of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, that number is greater than one in ten. In the United States, the average child mortality rate is fewer than six in one thousand.

In much of the developing world, too many children are being lost, according to public health leaders. That’s why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated up to $75 million to a new initiative led by Emory’s Global Health Institute that is focused on bringing that number down during the next twenty years.

The Child Health and Mortality Prevention and Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS, is a global health surveillance program created to gather data through a faster, more accurate, and more effective process than current methods. By identifying the most common causes of death for children in high-risk areas, leaders hope to improve health and quality of life, help local health officials address the root problems earlier, and prevent unnecessary deaths.

“For some time, the Gates Foundation has been interested in getting a firmer, more evidence-based grip on the causes of child death,” says Jeffrey Koplan, vice president for global health at Emory and CHAMPS executive director. “There is a belief that many children die of preventable causes, and a better sense of these causes would lead to better policy actions and increased funds allocated to addressing these particular problems.”

After months of study, the Gates Foundation invited fifty institutions to pursue the grant, and twenty-four submitted proposals. Emory was one of two finalists and was selected to spearhead CHAMPS earlier this year.

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