Global WACh

May 25, 2022

New publication on childhood mortality during and after acute illness in Africa and South Asia in the Lancet Global Health

The April 2022 publication of the Lancet Global Health featured a new publication by CHAIN Network researchers at UW’s Global WACh Research Center and our international partners – “Childhood mortality during and after acute illness in Africa and South Asia” a prospective cohort study”. The study aimed to investigate the rates of and associations behind deaths in hospitalized children across nine hospitals in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The study included 3,101 children and their caregivers, and revealed that out of the 350 deaths recorded, 48% were within six months of discharge from the hospital. 

The majority of children hospitalized for acute illness were at low risk of mortality. However, researchers found that deaths after hospitalization  were strongly associated with nutritional status, as well as by adverse caregiver characteristics and exposure to HIV. Despite the predictability of mortality after hospitalization, these concerns are not addressed by current national and international treatment guidelines.

Detailed interviews were conducted with families and the researchers found that even though caregivers attempted to seek additional care for their children, barriers to accessing care and managing illness, including challenges navigating and accessing the health system, mental health and psychosocial stressors and lack of financial means, all prevented them from getting their child the care they needed. To reduce risk of death after discharge, these factors must be addressed alongside acute medical care. The authors suggest a “fundamental shift in guidelines to risk-based approaches to inpatient and post-discharge management to further reduce childhood mortality”

Read the full publication in the Lancet Global Health, and view dissemination materials for clinicians, communities, and policymakers on CHAIN’s website.