Background: In efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goal for mortality among children under 5 years of age, countries require strategies for covering hard-to-reach and older children who are often missed by routine, fixed-site health services.
Objective: To document the evolution of Child Health Days (CHDs), designed as regular events for the delivery of health and nutrition services to children under the age of five.
Methods: We extracted information on service delivery strategies and codelivered interventions for the period 1999 to 2010from global monitoring databases for vitamin A and immunization.
Results: Our data illustrate a dramatic rise in CHDs over the decade: only two countries held CHDs in 1999; in 2010, 96 CHDs were conducted in 51 countries. Reliance on CHDs has been particularly marked in sub-Saharan Africa, where they are increasingly used to deliver five or more_services per event. Whereas early CHDs were largely defined by codelivery of vitamin A, immunizations, and deworming, they have since evolved into diverse packages including services such as water purification tablets and screening for severe malnutrition.
Conclusions: The scale-up of CHDs is helping countries to achieve high and equitable coverage of essential health and nutrition services. Future research should consider whether the increasingly diverse services delivered via CHDs are guided by epidemiologic considerations, and whether the rising number of codelivered interventions is affecting coverage performance or service quality. Guidance is also needed to ensure that CHDs are implemented as part of systematic efforts to improve health systems.