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Research project

Vital signs and triage in low- and middle-income countries (VITALS)

Status: Ongoing project

The VITALS project is an international collaboration aiming to improve the recognition of serious illness in children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

What we do

About our project

Background information

Children account for roughly 20 percent of all attendances to emergency care settings. Improved recognition of children with serious illness will reduce harm from delays in treatment, and thus has a direct beneficial impact on health care delivery. This is particularly relevant in low-resource settings where children often present severely unwell and staff shortages are common. Beside triage systems, a number of scores exist to allow early recognition and prioritisation of unwell children. However, there is little evidence on the application of these scores in lower- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Overall aim

Our overall aim is to improve the prioritization of children attending emergency care settings in LMICs. Studies will focus on several predictors of urgency in children in LMICs, including the ED-PEWS.

Research method

This is a multicentre observational study of a large cohort of children presenting to four acute care settings in The Gambia, Suriname and Tanzania. We use data of four existing high-quality databases consisting of routinely collected clinical data, originally established for other studies.

Our research focus

Desirable outcome

The ultimate goal is to improve the prioritisation of children attending emergency care settings in LMICs.

Funds & Grants

This research is supported by Thrasher Research Fund.


  • Academic Hospital Paramaribo, Paramaribo, Suriname.
  • Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Fajara and Banjul, The Gambia.
  • National Institute of Medical Research, Mbeya Medical Research Centre, Mbeya, Tanzania.
  • Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.
  • Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland.
  • Center for Primary Care and Public Health, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, The United Kingdom.
  • Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol, The United Kingdom.

Any questions?

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