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Research, a key component of the AIRE project

Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are a leading cause of illness and death among children in Africa. They particularly affect children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, which is why there is a need to strengthen child health programs.

The AIRE (Improving Identification of Respiratory Distress in Children) project, coordinated by ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action), aims to improve the diagnosis and care of childhood illnesses.

The research component of the AIRE project is implemented by Inserm (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and ALIMA at 16 health care centers across Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger. The studies being conducted will evaluate the impact of using pulse oximeters during consultations for children under the age of five.

The aim is to show that pulse oximeters – simple-to-use, non-invasive tools that measure oxygen saturation levels in the blood – are easy to integrate into routine care protocols at health centers.

“We are excited to launch this next phase of the AIRE project, which will show the impact of pulse oximeters and their usefulness in identifying serious illnesses among children during consultations in order to improve their care,” says Marine Vignon, AIRE project manager for ALIMA.

At each of the 202 selected centers, health workers use a pulse oximeter during consultations with children under five. The serious cases that are identified are quickly referred to a hospital for appropriate follow-up care.

At the 16 research sites, all families of seriously-ill children will be invited to participate in the study. Data collection by field teams, which began in June 2021, will take place over a period of 10 months and an estimated 6,000 children will be included in the study. The results of this research are expected to be published in 2022, and will provide scientific evidence on the feasibility, acceptability, and importance of integrating pulse oximeters into the consultations of children under five to help reduce infant and child mortality.

The AIRE project, which is funded by Unitaid, and coordinated by ALIMA in partnership with Terres des hommes, Solthis and Inserm (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), started in July 2019 with the goal of improving access to diagnostic tools for seriously ill children. It is taking place in 202 primary health centers in four African countries – Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger – with the approval of national Ministries of Health and ethics committees. The research component of the project is led by Inserm, in partnership with IRD, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development.

Cover photo: © Julien Mutanganwa / ALIMA

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