Health and Nutrition

The Issue

The Challenges

UNICEF in Action


The Issue

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-2921/Pirozzi

A child's right to health

Many countries in this region have made progress in health and nutrition. Children are less likely to die before their fifth birthday and more than 95 per cent of all children in 12 of these countries are immunized againstpreventable diseases. However, while the region is broadly on track to reach the health-related Millennium Development Goals (particularly MDG 4 on child mortality and MDG 5 on maternal mortality), there are alarming health disparities between countries in the region and, within countries, between geographic areas and population groups.

Children and mothers from certain ethnic groups, locations and income backgrounds continue to slip through the cracks of society, which is hindering their access to health care. The under-five mortality rate in many countries is 50 to 100 per cent higher in the poorest families than in the richest, and 40 per cent higher in rural areas than in the urban. In the Roma population of South-East Europe, child mortality is two to three times higher than the average.

Gaps in immunization have resulted in outbreaks of once diminished vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, while marginalized populations face higher rates of child undernutrition, which often has lifelong consequences. Children with disabilities or developmental delays are furthermore at risk of abandonment and may face a reliance on formal care.

UNICEF’s agenda for action with a rights-based approach, aims to ensure that no child is left behind. With a focus on the region’s most marginalized, UNICEF is rolling out its flagship initiative ‘A Promise Renewed’ so that children and mothers that appear invisible may enjoy the same rights to health as those more fortunate.

Last updated November 2013



 Email this article

unite for children