Ensuring the survival and health of children and women

A child is administered an oral vaccine during a routine immunization session at the health centre in the village of Preak Krabao, Kang Meas District, Cambodia


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

A child from Laputtaloke Taung primary school is given de-worming tablets by a midwife in class, as part of a nationwide programme for school children

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 women and children remain disadvantaged and unable to access critical health services.

Far too many children are still dying from easily preventable problems, especially during their first days/weeks of life, 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 and hygiene practices.

a woman holds a child who is being inoculated by a member of an immunization team that has come by boat from Port Vila, the capital, to vaccinate children on Ifira Island

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.


Strengthening systems for delivering quality health services to mothers and children without access is a key priority for UNICEF in this region

To improve maternal and neonatal survival rates, UNICEF is working with governments and development partners to make health systems more efficient and effective at delivering services to women and children. This includes improving basic and emergency obstetric care services, preventive and primary health care including antenatal, postnatal and newborn care.

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.

A baby being vaccinated in Indonesia

Immunization is essential to protecting children. UNICEF is working to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through universal access to vaccination services

UNICEF supports countries in the region in their efforts to reduce mortality and disability caused by many vaccine preventable diseases through the introduction of many new, powerful life-saving vaccines such as Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV) vaccine, measles, with a focus on reducing immunization inequities and rubella (MR) vaccine, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and Japanese Encephalitis (JE), building strong national immunization supply chain systems.

UNICEF also supports mass immunization campaigns against measles, tetanus and polio to achieve global and regional goals of polio eradication, measles and maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination with special attention on reaching the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and seeking opportunities to integrate these with other child survival interventions.

On 1 December 2016, children receive immunization, Vitamin A, deworming tablets and nutrition supplements in Kangan Ri, North Hamyong, DPR Korea

We work with governments to:

  • Provide technical assistance
  • Raise financial resources
  • Introduce new vaccines to prevent childhood killers, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea
  • Strengthen monitoring and evaluation of the programme
  • Facilitate generation and sharing of evidence to improve planning and management

UNICEF and in partnership with other international organizations such as, GAVI, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and other partners Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities UNICEF will continue working closely with governments and partners, striving to overcome the last mile and reach the last child.