Helping children to survive and thrive
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Young children in Bangladesh have a better chance of surviving past their fifth birthday than ever before. Infant mortality nearly halved between 1990 and 2019, which is inspiring progress and means that millions of young lives have been saved.
However, the newborn mortality rate has risen slightly in recent years to 26 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Most infant deaths occur in the first day or week of life due to poor care at the time of birth, often because there is no midwife or other skilled professional on hand. Only 6 in 10 deliveries in Bangladesh are carried out under the care of a skilled health professional, one of the lowest rates in the world.
As a result, about two-thirds of children who die before the age of 5 do so as newborns. The leading causes of under-five deaths are: pneumonia, drowning, respiratory diseases and malnutrition.
Not all Bangladeshi children have the best chance at life. Those born in rural areas, to the poorest families, and with uneducated mothers, are most likely to die before they turn 5.
To protect against disease, Bangladesh’s national immunization programme targets 3.8 million children a year. By the age of 12 months, nearly 84 per cent of children are fully vaccinated.
Although immunization coverage is high in Bangladesh, children living in urban and remote parts of the country are less likely to receive the vaccines they need for healthy lives.
Added to the challenges of poor quality of care at childbirth, is poor uptake of antenatal care services, especially in rural areas, inadequate health services in urban slums and low capacity of community health care providers.
UNICEF’s goal is to ensure that every child can survive and thrive.
UNICEF is working with the Government of Bangladesh to improve access to quality health services for mothers, newborns and children, especially the most vulnerable.
To achieve this, UNICEF and partners are focusing on three priority areas:
Universal health coverage: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of health systems that are resilient and responsive to emergencies. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to reach universal health coverage by strengthening health systems at national and community levels. This includes helping with evidence-based health policy making, programme planning and budgeting.
Equitable health services: UNICEF is strengthening the capacity of district and sub-district health systems to provide equitable access to high-quality maternal, newborn, child, adolescent health and immunization services, with a focus on the most vulnerable children.
Strengthening primary health care: UNICEF is working to ensure children and women are well-informed about issues affecting their health and wellbeing. This is to empower them to adopt healthy life practices and take the health services closer to the people both in urban and rural areas.