Child and adolescent health and well-being
Every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong.
Over the past two decades, the world has made tremendous progress improving child and adolescent health and well-being. But challenges persist. Communicable diseases continue to endanger children and adolescents across the globe – and new health problems are on the rise, especially in areas affected by poverty.
Mental health conditions, developmental delays and disabilities, injuries and non-communicable diseases – including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, preventable cancers and chronic respiratory diseases – pose threats to children and adolescents worldwide. Unhealthy diets, inactive lifestyles, use of substances, and environmental hazards such as air pollution also prevent millions of children and adolescents from surviving and thriving. Millions of children are still growing up without adequate health-care services, nutrition, safe environments, and responsive caregiving.
For the 1.2 billion adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19, the extent to which society invests in their health and well-being will determine the future not just for them, but for everyone.
Realizing the rights of adolescents and investing in their development contributes to their full participation in a nation’s life, a competitive labour force, sustained economic growth, improved governance and vibrant civil societies. That's at the heart of UNICEF's work.
UNICEF works around the world to help children survive and thrive throughout the first two decades of life. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, our efforts build strong health systems to promote universal health coverage, while addressing emerging issues in child and adolescent health.
Adolescent health and well-being
UNICEF and partners support the development and implementation of national plans for adolescent health, improving adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health including maternal and newborn care, and scaling up access to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to eliminate cervical cancer.
UNICEF works to expand access to programmes for preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), focusing on risk reduction throughout the maternal, child and adolescent life cycle. We integrate NCD prevention in existing maternal, newborn and child health programmes. We also support it through education and other social sectors.
Health and child development
In collaboration with partners, UNICEF co-led the development of the Nurturing Care Framework for early childhood development. We support key health components of nurturing care, particularly in a child’s early moments, and seek opportunities to advance nurturing care through routine health interactions between families and caregivers. UNICEF also supports countries in developing programmes for early identification and other services geared towards children with developmental delays and disabilities.
UNICEF addresses the environmental risks to children that emerge from climate change, lead exposure and environmental degradation as organizational and global advocacy priorities, by supporting national, local and community-based programmes.
UNICEF supports countries in the prevention of child injuries and drowning – especially by improving data collection to inform policymaking.