Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI)

Why we need an initiative

Children’s health and nutrition have improved dramatically over the last 25 years. Yet today three of the 10 most important conditions contributing to the global burden of disease are those of children-respiratory diseases, peri-natal condition and diarrhoeal diseases. Furthermore, 90% of deaths from malaria are in children under five years of age, HIV is taking an increasing toll on children because of maternal child transmission and constantly rising numbers of orphans and malnutrition is an underlying factor in at least 50% of all child deaths.

Early gains in the fight to improve children’s health were largely the result of new technologies. Future gains require a broader approach, which couples the application of technologies with socioeconomic, environmental and developmental research.

Research has demonstrated that some of the key factors that continue to affect childhood mortality and morbidity include low birth weight, poor nutrition, adverse environmental conditions, inequities in access to health care and poverty. Cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary research will be needed to address these issues.

Although this data argues strongly for an increased and improved focus on research on the health and nutritional status of children, this has not been supported by an increase in global investment.

Creation of the initiative

The concepts underlying the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) were developed as a result of several meetings convened by the Global Forum for Health Research, starting with the movement from research groups aiming to strengthen and formalize the interactions between researchers into child health and child nutrition.

The first meeting of CHNRI in June 1999 highlighted some of the important issues for the child health and nutrition research agenda. In February 2000, a meeting of interested parties led to the identification of research and analytical priorities.

Following receipt of initial funding from the World Bank in 2001, projects were supported as commissioned research/analysis and competitive research grants. Additionally, core funds were provided to address issues of governance and strategic planning.

2006, CHNRI has been a fully independent international Swiss Foundation. The Secretariat is hosted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (ICDDR) in Bangladesh.

Objectives and focus

The objectives of the network are to:

  • promote priority research discussion within a broadened approach to child health, nutrition and development;
  • expand global knowledge on childhood disease burden by identifying gaps on specific topics which are documented to be relevant but on which information is limited;
  • ensure adequate inclusion of developing country institutions and scientists in the setting of priorities and formulation of plans;
  • promote appropriate research capacity development in the South for participation in these activities;
  • stimulate donor participation.

Key activities

  • identify priority research topics. CHNRI uses priority-setting methodologies compatible with the 5-step approach and the Combined Approach Matrix;
  • mapping of actors in low- and middle-income countries so as to establish a network of institutions and individuals working on child health/nutrition research;
  • mobilizing funds;
  • annual meetings and electronic communication.