Malaria Consortium announces a new multi-country programme to improve diagnosis of pneumonia in four countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. The programme aims to reduce child mortality by identifying the most accurate and user-friendly diagnostic tools for the management of pneumonia in Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Cambodia.
Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in children under five, often as a result of late care-seeking, inappropriate treatment due to a lack of awareness of pneumonia symptoms and misdiagnosing symptoms as malaria.
Malaria Consortium already tackles pneumonia as part of integrated community case management (ICCM). Since 2009, over 15,000 community health workers have been trained to diagnose and treat pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea in children under five in Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and South Sudan. Innovations in diagnostic tools are also being piloted, including a respiratory timer for mobile phones, enabling community health workers to accurately count a child’s breathing to help determine whether they have pneumonia.
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this new programme aims to improve diagnosis of pneumonia in rural areas where there is an urgent need for easy-to-use and accurate diagnostic tools to detect symptoms of pneumonia. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of cases of childhood pneumonia can be successfully treated within communities or in rural health centres, without the need to attend a hospital, if diagnosed on time.
Malaria Consortium Chief Executive Charles Nelson said: “Pneumonia is both preventable and treatable, but in order for us to see a reduction in the number of children deaths, it is vital that diagnostics are widely and accurately used. Improving the diagnosis and management of pneumonia will ensure an affordable and sustainable quality of care, especially in communities where child mortality is high.”
Although a number of new innovative devices for pneumonia diagnosis have been developed, such as automated accelerometers, cough and lung sound detectors, and other automated counting and classification devices, their clinical performance, usability and acceptability in rural endemic settings are not yet known.