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German commitment

Promoting child health


Children in a mother-child facility in Burundi.

Every year some seven million children die before their fifth birthday around the world. Common causes of death are respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and measles. It is estimated that at least two thirds of child deaths could be prevented by simple and cost-effective measures. But health care services are not efficient enough to be able to offer these interventions, especially in the poorest coun­tries.

Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses

To improve child health, a comprehensive programme approach is promoted within the scope of de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion: the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI). The strategy was developed in 1992 by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and comprises a broad spectrum of measures. They include disease prevention in childhood, as well as information and education, improvement of living conditions and the treatment of illnesses.

IMCI is implemented by health care facilities, communities and families working together. This means, for example, that schools incorporate health education into their curricula. And programmes aiming to improve water supplies not only plan new water pipes, but incorporate health and hygiene education.

Germany’s commitment

A seven-month old girl in the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo being measured to check her recovery from acute malnutrition. Copyright: Guy Oliver/IRINGermany promotes a wide variety of interventions designed to reduce child mortality and to promote child health. The following examples will give you an impression of the scope of Germany’s commitment:

  • Strengthening health systems
    Health services for mothers and their children are indispensible to reduce mortality rates. Strengthening health systems and promoting universal access to primary health care are thus im­por­tant approaches for German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion.
  • Disease control
    Germany supports organisations like the WHO and UNICEF when it comes to disease control. These organisations conduct targeted, nationwide campaigns, co-financed by Germany, including programmes geared to the timely treatment of diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and respiratory tract infections.
  • Immunisation
    Germany supports Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This public-private partnership brings together numerous institutions, governments and the private sector, and focuses on vacci­na­tion campaigns, support for routine immunisation programmes and the strengthening of the health systems needed to deliver these services. The support that the BMZ has given Gavi has risen consistently since 2006, and reached 38 million euros in 2014.
  • Prevention
    In partner coun­tries Germany promotes infectious disease prevention. At well-baby clinics mothers have someone they can put their questions to. The clinics also provide targeted preventive care services for mothers and children. In this way problems such as malnutrition or retarded de­vel­op­ment can be recognised at an early stage and treated.
  • Health education measures
    ​Health education measures designed to improve neonatal health are integrated into the Safe Motherhood Programme. They serve to reduce the risk of children being born prematurely or underweight. Education and information are also im­por­tant weapons in preventing HIV infection.
  • Counselling
    ​Counselling services can impact on established ways of thinking and traditional practices, for example on the low esteem in which girls are held in certain coun­tries or on the practice of female genital mutilation. Food taboos and behavioural rules that are detrimental to children’s health are also raised during counselling.
  • Education
    It has been proven that improving the level of education of mothers can do much to reduce child mortality. Germany thus promotes basic education for girls and health education in the field of sexual and reproductive health. Income-generating activities are accompanied by further training in the fields of health, human rights and management capabilities.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
    About one quarter of deaths among the under fives are linked to in­ade­quate water supply and poor sanitation as well as to a lack of hygiene. Many of these diseases can, however, be prevented by taking simple measures. School health programmes, for instance, teach children which behaviour is beneficial to health.

More information

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