Despite progress made in the last years to ensure better health services for children and mothers in Armenia, the quality and accessibility of health services, particularly in rural areas remains poor.
The Government of Armenia has been making concerted efforts to increase public expenditure on health. In recent years there have been steady improvements in this area, however public expenditure channeled from the state budget to health sector as a percentage of GDP is still not sufficient. In 2006 the Government of Armenia spent 1.64% of its GDP on health sector (source: Armenia Mid-Term Expenditure Framework 2007-2009).
Registered tendencies in infant mortality rate during the last years are not sufficient in achievement of Millennium Development Goal 4 and increasing efforts are needed in this regard. According to the official statistical data the infant mortality has risen in 2004-2006 time span from 11.6 to 13.8 (per 1,000 live births).
Immunization Coverage Survey conducted in 2006 jointly by UNICEF and Ministry of Health indicated that the rate of fully immunized children has dropped to 42%.
Acute respiratory infections and diarrhea accounted for correspondingly 12.4 per cent and 7.3 per cent in 2005 of all infant deaths, while perinatal deaths account for more than 45%.
According to the 2005 Armenia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), 13 per cent of children under the age of five are suffering from chronic malnutrition, while five per cent of children are wasted and four per cent are underweight (the corresponding rates for DHS 2000 were 13 per cent, two per cent and 2.6 per cent).
ADHS 2005 indicates also that 36.5 per cent of children aged 6-59 months (23.9% as per ADHS 2000) and 24.6 per cent of women (12.4% as per ADHS 2000) are suffering from anaemia.
Poverty, particularly, in rural areas also affects the quality and accessibility of maternal health services. There were also few cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The Government of Armenia has taken steps to improve the situation in mother and child health care. In 2003 a ten-year Strategy on Mother and Child Health Care was approved and starting from 2004 the Government has continuously increased the allocation of funds for the procurement of vaccines and injection safety supplies.
Jointly with the Government of Armenia we are working to improve primary health services in the country so that children and women receive timely and quality treatment and care.
UNICEF brings in vaccines for Armenian children to ensure that children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Today UNICEF is the major international organization providing vaccines for children in Armenia. UNICEF also supports policy development and trains health workers on immunization and social mobilization to improve coverage.
Jointly with the Ministry of Health of Armenia UNICEF develops policies, strategies and protocols on mother and child healthcare and equips doctors and nurses with knowledge and skills on how to prevent and manage common childhood illnesses, monitor child growth and development, introduce new approaches of mother and child health care.
UNICEF promotes breastfeeding as one of the key pre-conditions for a child to grow healthy and disseminates information on this and other important child care practices to families, communities and other groups.
UNICEF also works to ensure that the population of Armenia is using only iodized salt.
Trainings are provided to health professionals on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
In 2002 Armenia was certified polio-free.
New vaccines have been introduced into a national schedule of immunization.
Armenia has adopted Measles Elimination Strategy with an ultimate goal to eliminate circulation of measles virus by 2010. Measles and rubella mass campaign for the target population aged 6-27 years is planned to be conducted in October 2007.
Infant mortality rate among children under 5 has fallen, from 60 for every 1,000 live births in 1990 to 35 per 1,000 in 2002 and 29 in 2005.
The rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months has risen from under 1 % in 1993 to 30% in 2000 and 33 in 2005.
Maternal Mortality Rate per 100,000 live births has declined from 36 in 1999-2001 to 25 in 2002-2004.
In 2006 Armenia was certified as a country that achieved elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders through universal salt iodization as the percentage of households consuming iodized salt is about 97%.
In 2003 the Government approved a ten-year Strategy on Mother and Child Health Care that provides for strategic directions and steps to reduce maternal and child mortality and improve health status of mothers and children through increasing the quality and accessibility of basic mother and child health services.
There are now 18 baby-friendly hospitals (covers 45% of annual deliveries in the country) and eight baby-friendly policlinics operating in the country.