Citizens, Parents and Children

A world where every citizen, parent and child will have access to the information and knowledge they need to prevent illness and injury, to recognise serious illness, to provide basic care, and to seek timely medical help



Tens of thousands of deaths occur needlessly every day in low- and middle-income countries, simply because of failure to provide life-saving interventions. Very often, these interventions are locally available but are not provided because of lack of basic healthcare knowledge among citizens, parents and children. This leads to failure to recognise serious illness and delays in seeking appropriate health care. In many countries in Africa, for example, more than 80% of child deaths occur in the home or en route to a healthcare facility. 

There is also a lack of access to adequate information for patients across all levels and aspects of healthcare services.

The HIFA Project for Citizens, Parents and Children promotes communication, understanding and advocacy to improve the availability and use of healthcare information for citizens, parents and children in low- and middle-income countries. We use the term 'citizens' inclusively to refer to all people (including patients) and communities. And we emphasise 'children' because children are all too often responsible for the care of their own parents and siblings.

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The HIFA Project for Citizens, Parents and Children:

1. promotes communication, discussion and debate on the HIFA forums, on the health information and learning needs of citizens, parents and children, and how these needs can be more effectively addressed.

2. develops understanding of information needs and how to meet them, and build the relevant parts of the HIFA Voices database         

3. leads the HIFA forums in advocacy to improve the availability and use of health information for citizens, parents and children.   

The Project liaises with the Mobile Healthcare Information For All (mHIFA) Project, which specifically promotes mHealth solutions for citizens, parents and children.



Terms of Reference for the members of the HIFA Working Group on Citizens, Parents, and Children.

Name Country
Clare Hanbury United Kingdom
David Neal United Kingdom
Dharmesh Lal India
Emmanuel Owobu Nigeria
Hari Prasad Upadhyay Nepal
Mamsallah Faal-Omisore Nigeria
Neil Pakenham-Walsh United Kingdom
Owoyemi Ayomide Nigeria
Ozge Karadag Caman Turkey
Tatjana Kobb Qatar
Tusharkanti Dey India
Further information

The health knowledge of parents and family caregivers can often mean the difference between life and death, especially for children. For example:

  • In Africa, up to 80% of child deaths occur at home. [1]
  • A study in India found that four in ten mothers believed they shouldwithhold fluids if their child develops diarrhoea – potentially and tragically contributing to the death of their own child. Almost 1000 children die every day in India alone. Most of their lives would have been saved if their mothers and carers had known to give morefluids with the correct amount of added sugar (6 level teaspoons in 1 litre water) and salt (half teaspoon in 1 litre). [2,3]
  • 8 in 10 caregivers in developing countries do not know the two key symptoms of childhood pneumonia – fast and difficult breathing – which indicate the need for urgent treatment (only 20% of children with pneumonia receive antibiotics despite wide availability, and 2 million die each year). [4]


[1] Oluwole D, Mason E, Costello A. Management of childhood illness in Africa. BMJ 2000;320:594-5

[2] Wadhwani N. An integrated approach to reduce childhood mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea and dehydration.

[3] UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, WFP and the World Bank. Facts for Life, 4th edition, 2010.

[4] Wardlaw T et al. Pneumonia: the leading killer of children. Lancet 2006;368:1048-50