Pneumonia and Diarrheal Disease

Pneumonia is the leading killer of children under five globally. While effective interventions to reduce these deaths are available, not enough children are being reached. MCSP plays a key role in global advocacy to empower and equip health workers in scaling up effective treatments for pneumonia with recommended antibiotics. MCSP also supports and implements key measures to prevent pneumonia, including adequate nutrition, promoting indoor air quality, immunization, and correct handwashing with soap.

Diarrheal disease — which is both preventable and treatable with simple and cost-effective interventions — ranks as the second cause of death for children under five. MCSP advocates globally for increased visibility of this often forgotten killer, and for the integration of diarrheal disease programs with other child health programs (including pneumonia, WASH, malaria, and nutrition).

The current treatment package for diarrhea consists of a combination of both low-osmolarity oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc. The provision of ORS and zinc should go hand-in-hand with continued feeding of the child, including increased fluid intake and breastfeeding. To prevent diarrheal disease, important interventions include:

  • Increasing coverage of the rotavirus and measles vaccines;
  • Promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life;
  • Vitamin A supplementation; and
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions (including handwashing with soap).

In 2013, USAID’s predecessor flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) provided technical assistance in the development of the integrated Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea, which details a roadmap of interventions that protect, prevent and treat childhood illnesses. MCSP participated in the Diarrhea and Pneumonia Working Group, which supports treatment and scale-up of interventions to treat diarrhea and pneumonia in 10 high-burden countries.

In health facilities, the Program works to ensure that ORS and zinc are available, and that oral rehydration therapy corners function with both supplies and trained health staff. MCSP also contributes to creating and revising health worker job aids and treatment guidelines, and supports the introduction and expansion of integrated Community Case Management.

Maternal Child Survival Program
Maternal and Child Survival Program