Bill Gates wants to know why children are dying, and he’s paying $75 million to find out. Gates told The Atlantic about the most recent endeavor for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: a network of disease surveillance centers, designed to collect information on the ground in poor countries where medical treatment is often unavailable. According to Gates, once we know more about which diseases are occurring where and with what frequency, we will be able to do real work to help save the children of the world.

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The network of monitoring sites, dubbed the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network (CHAMPS), is intended to help attack the problem of child mortality with a multi-pronged approach. CHAMPS will be used to track disease activity, such as the number of cases in certain areas over time as well as how diseases travel through a region. The network will also be used to make sure that vaccines and other medical aid reach the areas where they are most needed, by identifying crucial disease hotspots even as they change status. At first, six locations will open in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Gates would like to see the network expanded to 20 locations with proper support.

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Gates says they are focusing most of their initial efforts on diseases that kill the youngest children—primarily aged 30 days to 5 years. Although improvement has been made globally in child mortality rates, moving from one in 10 children dying before the age of five in 1990 to one in 20 today, Gates feels that progress is not enough. The figures on neonatal mortality indicate that newborns account for 44 percent of childhood deaths worldwide, so targeting the youngest children is the fastest way to save the most lives. Other Gates Foundation efforts have made positive progress helping older children fight disease, so Gates is hopefully that targeting younger children will be just as effective.

Via The Atlantic

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