Combating child mortality in Malawi

In Malawi, the under-five mortality rate is 133 per 1,000 live births. Many of these deaths could be avoided by prompt recognition and treatment of serious, common infections. This is why the 4-year Supporting LIFE project was launched on 1 May 2013.

Objective: to reduce under-five mortality rate

To reduce the under-five mortality rate in Malawi, Supporting LIFE aims to improve the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of seriously ill children in Malawi. Only if frontline health workers can correctly differentiate between conditions that they can handle themselves and serious infections, children can be referred in time to the next higher-level health facility.

Low-cost measure: mobile health app

Supporting LIFE pursues this goal mainly by developing and evaluating an application for smart phones that supports frontline health workers at the patient point of care. Specifically, the app supports health workers by:

  • Asking a series of relevant clinical questions
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Computing illness classification and treatment recommendations

Need for the Supporting LIFE app

Health workers in rural areas of Malawi (known as Health Surveillance Assistants / HSAs) need support with diagnosis and treatment selection because they are the first and often only persons who are contacted when a child falls ill, but they are not trained nurses or doctors. The app also provides a low-cost tool for the Ministry of Health to collect data on children’s health status, thus supporting them to devise effective and efficient measures to improve healthcare provision.

Supporting LIFE Documentary

In this 5-minute video clip, Supporting LIFE partners provide further details on the project's objectives, the means to reach these objectives, and on the current health system in Malawi.