Unicef in action
Promoting Infant and Child Health
UNICEF believes it is important to invest in the health and nutrition of infants and young children because it contributes to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Between 2001 and 2005, UNICEF focused on nutrition through the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding nationwide, the promotion of the use of iodized salt and the administration of vitamin A supplements twice per year for children 6 months to 5 years old. These are high impact and low cost interventions for the survival and development of the child.
Significant changes ensued as a result of these interventions. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding moved from 5% in 1998 to 19% in 2003. From 1998 through 2005, vitamin A supplements were administered to children aged 6 months to 5 years during the vaccination campaigns on National Immunization Days (NIDs). A 2005 survey on vitamin A supplements showed a 97% coverage rate during the second round of vaccinations that year.
UNICEF supplied the vitamin A capsules for the campaign and gave technical and financial support for the NIDs. UNICEF also helped in public awareness campaigns surrounding the NIDs and the use of iodized salt and, through community health centres, helped to diffuse information about the best nutrition for infants and young children.
Using the experience gained by the implementation of an accelerated child survival and development project in two districts, UNICEF is mobilizing partners and key actors around scaling up an integrated package of interventions which can have a significant impact on child survival. The package includes vitamin A supplementation, deworming, oral rehydration, the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, as well as the prevention of anemia among children and pregnant women. It also includes the provision of treated mosquito nets and early screening and management of cases of malnutrition.
Improve health care with communities’ implication
UNICEF has contributed to the improvement of geographical access to a better quality of health care with communities’ involvement in the sharing cost process. Two third of the population in the project area live within less than 10 kilometers away from a health facility offering a minimum package of activities.
Half of the population has access to referral quality care, including emergency obstetric care. The support to the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and to the National Immunization Days (NDI) has led to a significant increase in routine vaccine coverage with Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DTP3) at 76% in 2003 and 96% in 2005, and 100% of coverage in oral polio and vitamin A. The program has also contributed in the fight against the outbreak of meningitis.
By 2010, the new UNICEF’s health and nutrition program aims at contributing in the following:
- Reduced infant mortality and the juvenile infant mortality rate by 20%;
- Reduced maternal mortality rate by 20% ;
- Reduced morbidity due to sanitation and waterborne diseases.
The strategies related to the three project components of the program - support to newborn and child health and nutrition, support to maternal health and nutrition and support to institutional strengthening of health system – are as follows:
- Promote Child and mother survival and health at all the levels within the framework of clinical and Community Integrated Management Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) and the effective implementation of this approach
- cause the participation of the community, the civil society and decentralized groups in mobilization of resources and health share costs system,
- Strengthen of partnerships within the framework of the Roadmap and 2010 Vision for the implementation and scaling up of high impact interventions.
- Promote the communication strategies for the reinforcement/strengthening of knowledge attitudes and best practices for pregnant woman and newborn’s health at community and household level in such a way as to improve disease prevention and reduce the delay in obstetric and neonatal emergencies management.