DHS surveys routinely collect data on vaccination of children, prevalence and treatment of acute respiratory infections (ARI) and fever, and diarrhea. Prevention and treatment of malaria in children is usually presented in the malaria chapter of DHS final reports.
SPA surveys collect a large range of child health service provision indicators. The SPA is designed to assess the availability of preventive services (such as immunization and growth monitoring) and outpatient care for sick children.
Child health refers to the period between birth and five years old when children are particularly vulnerable to disease, illness and death. From one month to five years of age, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and HIV. Malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one third of all child deaths.
Pneumonia is the prime cause of death in children under five years of age. Nearly three-quarters of all cases occur in just 15 countries. Addressing the major risk factors – including malnutrition and indoor air pollution – is essential to preventing pneumonia, as are vaccination and breastfeeding.
Diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of sickness and death among children in developing countries. Breastfeeding helps prevent diarrhea among young children. Treatment for sick children with oral rehydration salts (ORS) combined with zinc supplements is safe, cost-effective, and saves lives.
Though it is preventable with immunization, measles still kills an estimated 164,000 people each year – mostly children less than five years of age.
A major factor contributing to child mortality is malnutrition, which weakens children and reduces their resistance to disease. About 20 million children under five worldwide are severely malnourished.