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How do we save more lives in emergencies?

How can integrating our emergencies areas lead to saving children’s lives? How do we save newborn and children’s lives in emergencies?

These are some of the questions that we have been grappling with in the newborn and child survival in emergencies training of around 30 specialists in emergency health, nutrition, food security & livelihoods, water sanitation and hygiene, shelter and HIV. These are all the key sectors that need to work together in reducing the deaths in children that we see, as a result of emergencies.

One of the main outcomes from the training was the importance of “integration” between sectors. This does not just mean that Save the Children works in all of these sectors in an emergency response (although we usually do). It means that these sectors need to work in a complimentary manner, creating synergy rather than duplication, creating greater efficiency in costs and greater impact on the children we are seeking to help.

How do we do this? It means that health and water, sanitation and hygiene teams should work together to plan activities when, for example, tackling cholera. It means carrying out work with health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene teams when developing and promoting public health messages on a local radio station.

This is a new area and not a lot of research has been done to prove the importance of integration to save more lives. Part of Save the Children’s work will be to explore questions such as: “What is the impact of integrating our sectors” and “How do we best integrate our sectors when responding to emergencies”. We can then create evidence to demonstrate increased efficiencies and impact. In the long run, hopefully it will have a positive impact on the children we’re aiming to serve.

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