I took my son to the doctor recently. In one office, during one visit, he had a physical check-up, vision and hearing exams, and he received counseling on nutrition, and several vaccines. While to many parents around this world, this is unremarkable, for many more, this is impossible. Families relying on public health programs in low-resource countries can't count on one-stop access to the basic services they or their children need.
This challenge is thoughtfully illuminated in a new briefing paper from Action for Global Health, Adopting a Child-Centered Approach: Integration for Maximizing Impact on Child Health. As the paper notes, families in low-resource countries encounter fragmented approaches, requiring them to go to different facilities for different needs, or to find no help at all for some diseases.
That is why the groups - PATH included - that collaborated on this report are urging integrated approaches. In particular, we recommend that donors create and support aid structures that encourage and enable integrated approaches to child health, particularly by supporting health systems and strategies focused on local needs and priorities.
Our recommendations build upon the pivotal action plan released this year by UNICEF and WHO: the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Treatment of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea. The Global Action Plan calls on national governments and their partners (that is to say, their donors) to integrate their approach to fighting these diseases, for which the interventions to protect against, prevent and treat are complementary.
The groups involved in this briefing paper each have our own priorities - nutrition, malaria care, improving access to sanitation, defeating diarrheal disease, etc. - but we all agree that what matters most is that whatever ails them, children and their parents can access the care they need.
-- Eileen Quinn, Communications Director for the Vaccine Development Program at PATH
Photo credit: PATH