Research, Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health

ISGlobal Researchers Collaborate in a Series of Methodological Articles on CHAMPS, a Project to Improve Child Health

The largest global network of child mortality surveillance uses the minimally invasive autopsy developed by ISGlobal to determine causes of death among children under five years of age

Photo: Andalu Vila San Juan. Manhiça, Mozambique

Four years ago, CHAMPS, the largest surveillance network of child health and mortality, was launched. One of the cornerstones of CHAMPS is the minimally invasive autopsy (MIA), a technique developed by ISGlobal. The project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has just published a series of thirteen articles describing the methodological foundation of the network - from the laboratory to epidemiology and community engagement - and in which several researchers at ISGlobal, an institution supported by “la Caixa”, have participated.    

What did 5 million-and-a-half children under five years of age die from last year? It may sound incredible, but in most cases the cause is not known, particularly in low-income countries. The goal of the CHAMPS (Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance) network is to better understand what children are dying from in some of the poorest countries.   

“To reduce child mortality and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need better data than what we currently have,” says Jaume Ordi, principal investigator of the CADMIA-plus project and coauthor of several papers of the series, together with other ISGlobal colleagues. “With the minimally invasive autopsy, we can obtain more reliable information to determine the causes of death not only among small children but also in adults and pregnant women,” adds Clara Menéndes, director of ISGlobal’s Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health Initiative. The series of articles, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, addresses the challenges of implementing the technology and adapting it to local context and resources.

“The technique does not require highly trained staff or special equipment, but one of the challenges is to train the personnel so that the process of taking the samples is the same in the different countries,” explains Quique Bassat, ICREA researcher at ISGlobal. “Another challenge is to work with communities with different cultures and religions so that the intervention is accepted in each context,” explains anthropologist Maria Maixenchs.    

The data generated by CHAMPS are available to all stakeholders, including national ministries of health and health institutions, WHO, UNICEF, donors and researchers, so they can use the information to guide public health interventions and policies aimed at reducing child mortality. 


Rakislova N, Fernandes F, Lovane L, et al. Standardization of Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling Specimen Collection and Pathology Training for the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network. 2019. Clinical Infecious Diseases, Vol 69, Issue Supplement 4, S302-S310, in:

The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network: Foundational Methods. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2019. Oct 15, Vol. 69, Issue Supplement 4.