The first three years of a child’s life are critical from the perspective of child health and development. UNICEF Turkmenistan works with the Government to ensure that every child has the best possible start – a safe, registered birth, proper nutrition, and access to immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Around 100,000 babies are born every year in Turkmenistan. Like children all over the world, these newborns face numerous challenges on the road to adulthood.
The Government and UNICEF have conducted a joint campaign to encourage exclusive breastfeeding – a safe, healthy and economical practice that was once practiced by fewer than 49 per cent of Turkmen women. Government funding also has been secured for providing micronutrients, immunization and essential drugs for the integrated management of childhood illnesses, particularly acute respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases. The use of iodized salt has reached 86 per cent. Although significant improvements have been made, the goal is to further reduce under-5 mortality from 50 to 33 per 1,000 live births.
Meanwhile, changes in home visitation under the Primary Health Care system are helping to ensure this remains a critical channel for addressing Early Childhood Development issues, and the opportunity exists for Turkmenistan to become a cutting-edge country in terms of enhanced home visiting. Likewise, UNICEF is helping to foster a key opportunity to strengthen the role of the health sector in terms of introducing developmental paediatrics and early detection and intervention with regard to child developmental delays and disabilities.