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

Far too many children are still dying from problems, especially during their first days/weeks, 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.

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

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.

Immunization is essential to protecting children’s health and development. Together UNICEF, in partnership with other partners, international organizations, applies the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through universal access to vaccination services for people in all communities.

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.

We work with governments to:

  • provide technical assistance
  • raise financial resources
  • introduce new vaccines to prevent childhood killers, such as pneumonia and diarrhea
  • 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.





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