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mHealth Helps Curb Child Mortality Rates in Rural Malawi

Many low- and middle-income countries, such as Malawi, continue to experience high child mortality rates. Most of these deaths are caused by preventable and treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia. But managing these conditions is a challenge in Malawi, where around 83% of the population lives in rural areas where access to appropriate health facilities is difficult. To identify sick children and ensure they get treatment close to home the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF introduced a community case management protocol in 2008. It’s mostly managed by community health workers. In Malawi, a cadre of community health workers called health surveillance assistants are at the heart of service provision in hard-to-reach areas. Health surveillance assistants provide services in village clinics, mainly by assessing the signs and symptoms in acutely unwell children. This allows them to identify and manage conditions according to the community case management protocol. The protocol allows health surveillance assistants to give treatment to sick children. But when a child shows danger signs such as vomiting, not being able to breastfeed, or being unconscious or lethargic, they must be referred to hospital immediately.