Health Research Program

Worldwide, the number of deaths of children under five has decreased dramatically. However, 16,000 children under the age of five are still dying each day. Of the nearly six million children who didn’t live to see their fifth birthday, almost one million died on their first day of life.

Disparities in child survival remain high between developed and developing countries. A child born in sub-Saharan Africa is 14 times more likely to pass away before his or her fifth birthday than one born in the U.S.1  Globally, the major causes of death in children under five include pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and malaria. Many of these deaths could be prevented with affordable, low-technology interventions, including antibiotics, zinc treatment for diarrheal diseases, oral rehydration solution, and antimalarials.

USAID’s Health Research Program increases disease prevention and improves diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of illness, accelerates introduction of improved drug regimens, and advances understanding of causes and risk factors of pneumonia and diarrhea.  The Health Research Program is advancing use of integrated community case management of childhood illness (ICCM) and Verbal Autopsy and Social Autopsy Studies (VASA).

To learn more about how the Health Research Program works to improve child health, please visit our project pages. You can also find more information about USAID’s overall efforts to  improve child health here.


1WHO Children: Reducing Mortality Fact Sheet, updated September 2016