Experts: UN program to save children didn't work

Jul 31, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- The U.N. unveiled a multimillion dollar strategy a dozen years ago to save children worldwide, but a new study has found the program had surprisingly little effect in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries.

Since 1997, more than 100 countries have adopted the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Program, designed by the and UNICEF. It was supposed to reduce deaths in children under age 5 due to , , measles and , which make up about 70 percent of all child deaths.

Bangladesh is the only country where researchers compared results between areas that implemented the U.N. strategy with those that did not. In research published in the medical journal on Friday, experts found the program had no major impact on saving children.

U.N. officials could not say how much the program in Bangladesh cost, but said millions have been spent on its implementation around the world.

"It's remarkable the program has achieved so little," said Philip Stevens, a director at the International Policy Network, a London think-tank. "And it's baffling that it has been rolled out globally without any evidence that it works."

The U.N. strategy has three main components: training health workers; improving health systems, which includes ensuring drugs are available; and encouraging communities and parents to do things like maintain good hygiene and have their children immunized.

In Bangladesh, international researchers found the strategy improved the skills of health workers and convinced more people to seek treatment when they got sick. In the areas where the U.N. strategy was used, more children were breast-fed and the prevalence of stunted growth dropped by 20 percent.

But in areas where the program wasn't implemented, slightly more were vaccinated against measles, and there was no big difference in death rates.

Researchers weren't sure why the program had failed, but said the community part of the U.N. strategy was "less effective than expected."

The study was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Some officials insisted the U.N. needed even more money for the program.

In an accompanying commentary in the Lancet, Trevor Duke of the University of Papua New Guinea called for an extra US$5-8 billion for the program to be expanded in 40 of the world's poorest countries.

Stevens said the U.N. should first prove its strategies work.

"If a private company produced results like this, it would rapidly go out of business," he said. "Yet in U.N. land, failure is used as a justification to ask for more money to do more of the same."

-----

On the Net:

http://www.lancet.com

http://www.who.int

http://www.unicef.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: The high cost of hot flashes: Millions in lost wages preventable

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New fund promises low-cost malaria treatment

Apr 19, 2009

(AP) -- A $225 million fund to provide low-price anti-malaria medicine around the world was launched in the Norwegian capital Friday to fight a disease that kills 2,000 children a day.

Study: Some heart patients undoing drug benefits

Mar 12, 2009

(AP) -- European heart patients are taking more medication than ever before to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, but bad habits such as overeating and smoking are undermining the drugs, a new study says. Despite ...

Violence against women impairs children's health

Sep 11, 2008

Violence against women in a family also has serious consequences for the children's growth, health, and survival. Kajsa Åsling Monemi from Uppsala University has studied women and their children in Bangladesh and Nicaragua ...

Recommended for you

Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

13 minutes ago

Just a handful of people had registered by midday Wednesday to be private growers of marijuana in Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize the production, sale and distribution of the drug.

Tracking spending among the commercially insured

10 hours ago

Recent growth in health care spending for commercially insured individuals is due primarily to increases in prices for medical services, rather than increased use, according to a new study led by researchers at The Dartmouth ...

Taking aim at added sugars to improve Americans' health

14 hours ago

Now that health advocates' campaigns against trans-fats have largely succeeded in sidelining the use of the additive, they're taking aim at sugar for its potential contributions to Americans' health conditions. But scientists ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mo411
not rated yet Jul 31, 2009
"It's remarkable the program has achieved so little," said Philip Stevens, a director at the International Policy Network, a London think-tank. "And it's baffling that it has been rolled out globally without any evidence that it works."


Answer: From each their ability to each their needs begets you less able and more needy. Universally applied the logic is always the same.