The contribution of child health days to improving coverage of periodic interventions in six African countries

Food Nutr Bull. 2010 Sep;31(3 Suppl):S248-63. doi: 10.1177/15648265100313S304.


Background: Child Health Days have been implemented since the early 2000s in a number of sub-Saharan African countries with support from UNICEF and other development partners with the aim to reduce child morbidity and mortality.

Objective: To estimate the effect of Child Health Days on preventive public health intervention coverage, and possible trade-offs of Child Health Days with facility-based health systems coverage, in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: Data were assembled and analyzed from population-based sample surveys and administrative records and from local government sources, from six countries. Field observations (published elsewhere) provided context.

Results: Child Health Days contributed to improving measles immunization coverage by about 10 percentage points and, importantly, provided an opportunity for a second dose. Child Health Days achieved high coverage of vitamin A supplementation and deworming, and improved access to insecticide-treated nets. Reported measles cases declined to near zero by 2003-5--a result of the combined efforts of routine immunizations and supplementary immunization activities, often integrated with Child Health Days. Collectively these activities were successful in reaching and sustaining a high enough proportion of the child population to achieve herd immunity and prevent measles transmission.

Conclusions: Additional efforts and resources are needed to continue pushing coverage up, particularly for measles immunization, in rural/hard-to-reach areas, amongst younger children, and less educated/poorer groups. In countries with low routine immunization coverage, Child Health Days are still needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Anthelmintics / administration & dosage
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insecticide-Treated Bednets
  • Measles Vaccine
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • United Nations
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage


  • Anthelmintics
  • Measles Vaccine
  • Vitamin A