Languages
Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Unicef child-death campaign in Africa 'failed'

Ghanaian mother and children in Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital in Accra, file image
Unicef says its programme helped influence governments

A UN programme to combat child deaths from disease in West Africa has failed, a Johns Hopkins University study says.

Unicef spent $27m (£17m) rolling out vaccinations, vitamin A pills and bed nets to protect against malaria from 2001 to 2005 in areas of 11 countries.

The researchers studied parts of Ghana, Mali and Benin and said children often survived better outside the UN scheme.

Unicef said the programme succeeded in raising standards of care across whole countries, not just in target areas.

Jennifer Bryce, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the BBC's Focus on Africa there had been "too many missed opportunities to save children's lives".

"The lives of many children with pneumonia, diarrhoea or malaria could have been saved if a trained community health worker had been on hand to provide correct treatment," she said.

"But instead what we found was there were few gains [in the areas covered by Unicef] for providing treatment for these diseases - and some losses."

'Success, not failure'

The study, published in the British medical journal Lancet, claimed that child deaths fell by 13% in areas of Benin targeted by Unicef.

But in areas of the country where the programme was not introduced, the death rate dropped by almost 25%.

In Mali the researchers found death rates fell by 24% in districts where the Unicef programme was set up, but 31% elsewhere in the country.

The UN agency's Mickey Chopra told the BBC it was a misinterpretation to say the programme had failed.

"The programme always was about encouraging governments... to put these interventions in place all over the country," he said.

"And we showed that coverage of things like vaccinations, vitamin A pills and bed nets did increase all over the countries after the programme had started.

"So the fact that we succeeded in increasing coverage of these interventions across the whole country - which in turn meant that the whole country showed improvement - is a success of the programme not a failure."

Unicef's aim was to reduce the death rate by at least 25% by the end of 2006.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Move to cut child diarrhoea death
14 Oct 09 |  Health
Sugary drinks 'worsen vomit bug'
22 Apr 09 |  Health
Zinc good for children with HIV
25 Nov 05 |  Health
Supplements 'reduce malaria toll'
06 Feb 08 |  Health

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific