A Blueprint for Saving Children’s Lives

“[AKU’s research] provides the evidence base to make the case that ending preventable child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea is ambitious but achievable.”

Aga Khan University researchers continue to play a crucial part in the global effort to reduce the approximately 5.9 million child deaths and 289,000 maternal deaths that occur every year. Among their most important recent achievements are their contributions to two agenda-setting Lancet Global​ Health Series – one on newborn survival and one on childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Bringing together dozens of experts from around the world, The Lancet Every Newborn Series furnishes the evidence and analysis needed to develop comprehensive strategies for preventing newborn deaths and stillbirths. For the Series, AKU researchers determined the most effective interventions and their financial costs. Among their findings: providing quality care to all women delivering in facilities could prevent nearly 2 million deaths annually for less than a dollar per person.

Melinda Gates said the Series makes “a clear-cut case that a dramatic decrease in neonatal mortality is achievable.” Among the promising interventions she cited was a technique whose effectiveness AKU demonstrated in a study of 9,700 newborns.

Together, pneumonia and diarrhoea kill 2 million children annually. Led by AKU, The Lancet Childhood Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Series identifies 15 interventions that could eliminate three-quarters of deaths, and analyses obstacles to implementation based on consultations with hundreds of key stakeholders from 39 countries.

The Lancet Series are far from AKU’s only recent contributions to maternal and child health research. The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi was one of two dozen institutions that collected data on 60,000 pregnancies as part of Intergrowth-21st. The largest collaborative global venture in perinatal health research, the project is leading to the development of new fetal and newborn growth standards that can help doctors to identify and address problems in babies early. AKU was also one of only three developing world universities among the 42 partners that collaborated on Countdown to 2015, a global effort to track and stimulate progress toward achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.