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“CHAMPS is strengthening the effort to dramatically reduce child mortality around the world through collecting, analyzing and sharing better data that provides evidence based solutions to save lives.”

—Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, CHAMPS Executive Director and Principal Investigator

There is a hidden epidemic of child mortality throughout the developing world, in which six million children under the age of 5 die each year. Despite all the advancements of modern medicine, the reasons for these deaths are often unknown because data systems enabling surveillance and access are not in place. Consequently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has deployed the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) project, which aims to close these information gaps by gathering data about infant mortality and maternal deaths at selected sites throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia for twenty years.

Digital solutions for the collection, management, and visualization of data are desperately needed by most enterprises throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This is particularly true in medical facilities, where a smooth circulation of data provides transparency to stakeholders and enables data-driven policy making.

Solutions that work well in the first-world often cannot be easily ported to developing countries due to unusual constraints in physical infrastructure and digital literacy, such as unreliable internet and electricity. In our case, we are providing medical facilities in Kenya with software for capturing medical data and the tracking progress of cases that work through the CHAMPS surveillance system. Our data collection solutions are based on open-source platforms, enabling them to be easily augmented with auxiliary tools for handling case management, analytics, and the subtleties of handling concurrent mortality projects that nevertheless seek to utilize the same questions. Together with our partners in the CDC, we devise strategies for working with these tools, advising field staff and lab technicians on how to use them most effectively.

Kenya ranks 52nd overall in global child mortality, and Kisumu county in Western Kenya has suffered from particularly high child mortality rates on the order of 1 out of 5. There have also been reported upticks in the number of maternal deaths in recent years. Consequently the Kisumu CHAMPS site was launched on May 10, 2017. To the side are some pictures from this launch event.

Our work focuses on digital solutions, but would have no efficacy without the professional laboratory techniques and incredible community engagement work by our partners at KEMRI. All data and specimens can only be collected with parental consent, which is acquired in person throughout a network of community health workers and the mortality surveillance team. A large battery of laboratory analyses are then performed, and these analyses are then reviewed by medical panels to formally assign causes of death. This data will then be anonymized and made accessible to national organizations to facilitate evidence-driven policy.

We hope to be able to continue supporting this important project over the coming years, evolving our software along-side advancements in web technology and medical practices.