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Immunization in Cambodia
© UNICEF/Laos 2007/Jim Holmes
Sengsavanh, 12, receives a measles vaccination at school in Laos

UNICEF’s health programme in East Asia and Pacific is focused on young childhood survival and development. Child survival is at the very heart of what UNICEF does. This includes maternal heath, neonatal and child health, and immunization.

East Asia and the Pacific is a region that has seen great economic progress in recent decades. More children than ever are surviving to adulthood. However, huge numbers of children remain disadvantaged and unable to access critical health services.

Far too many children are still dying from problems in infancy, and from diarrhoea and pneumonia. These are easily prevented and treated but are the biggest killers of children in the region. Too many mothers suffer ill health or do not survive child birth. In most countries in the region, more than 30 per cent of children are stunted, a condition associated with long-term under-nutrition and poor sanitation.

As a whole, the region has made progress on reducing mortality among children under the age of five, but several countries are lagging behind. Maternal mortality rates are also improving. Despite this, maternal and neonatal deaths remain too high, with the rate of maternal deaths in some countries alarmingly high.

UNICEF’s work

Delivering quality health services to people without access is a key priority for UNICEF in this region.

To improve maternal and neonatal survival rates, UNICEF is working with governments to make health systems more efficient and better at delivering services to women and children. This includes improving emergency obstetric care services, preventive and primary health care, and early diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

We also support national and sub-national governments in evidence-based planning and budgeting to address key health system bottlenecks. This process also provides crucial evidence for advocacy to reduce disparities in coverage of maternal and child health services.

Immunization is essential to protecting children’s health and development. UNICEF supports mass immunization campaigns against measles, tetanus and polio, while seeking opportunities to integrate these with other health services.

We work with governments to:

  • provide technical and financial input
  • raise financial resources
  • improve the cold chain and logistical systems to strengthen monitoring, programme reporting and service delivery
  • introduce new vaccines to prevent childhood killers, such as diarrhoea, meningitis and pneumonia.

Although many countries in the region have achieved high immunization coverage, the challenge is to reach the most vulnerable and marginalised children and to strengthen and expand delivery systems. UNICEF has partnered with the World Health Organization to develop the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy, which outlines a framework for countries to reach more children.





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