Maternal, newborn and child survival

Improving the survival chances of newborns, children and mothers is an urgent global challenge.

A happy mother gives her baby a kiss on the cheek.

Children, newborns and mothers have a greater chance of surviving today than they did just two decades ago. Still, diseases like pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea – along with pregnancy- and birth-related complications – claim the lives of millions of children and mothers every year.

In 2018 alone, 6.2 million children under the age of 15 died – including 5.3 million children under the age of 5. Almost half of these children died in the first month of life. What's more, an estimated 810 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Most of these deaths can be avoided. In many parts of the world, underfunded health systems struggle to provide quality essential services to save the lives of children and mothers.

If current trends persist, 56 million children under the age of 5 will die between 2018 and 2030 – half of them newborns. Improving the survival chances of babies, children and their mothers remains an urgent global challenge.

A little girl in her mother's arms reaches for her mother's cheek.
Kim Hyang Jong, 18 months old, in Jongju City Hospital in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, touches her mother's cheek.

UNICEF's response

UNICEF is committed to addressing the needs of mothers, newborns and children, and ensuring they have access to affordable, quality health care, good nutrition and clean water. 

We work closely with Governments, partners and communities to combat common infectious childhood diseases and end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths. And we help countries reach more children and women – especially the most vulnerable – with essential health services.

Maternal and newborn health

UNICEF and partners help save the lives of mothers, newborns and children by supporting high-quality, low-cost care and services before, during and after birth – at health facilities and at home. We also work towards the final elimination of maternal and newborn tetanus across the globe.

Childhood diseases

Despite being entirely preventable and treatable, common infectious diseases still kill children in large numbers. UNICEF supports countries to provide preventative and curative services for pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and other health conditions. 


UNICEF and partners support immunization programmes in over 100 countries to help children survive and lead healthy lives. Our efforts include engaging communities to create vaccine demand, procuring and distributing vaccines, and keeping vaccines safe and effective. 


Levels and Trends in Child Mortality, 2019

This report from UNICEF and partners shows the full scope of child mortality rates across the world, as well as the progress made towards meeting Sustainable Development Goal targets.

Every Child Alive: The Urgent Need to End Newborn Deaths

Read more about what needs to be done to accelerate global efforts to end preventable newborn deaths.

One Is Too Many: Ending Child Deaths from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea

This UNICEF report shows why and how ending preventable child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea is within our grasp.

Newborn Health in Humanitarian Settings Field Guide

This field guide provides information related to newborn care during the first 28 days of life in humanitarian settings. 

Survive and Thrive: Transforming Care for Every Small and Sick Newborn

This technical report on small and sick newborns, developed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, outlines what can be done to transform inpatient care for small and sick newborns.

Every Newborn Progress Report, 2019

This report provides an in-depth look at progress related to newborn health in 90 countries and territories that use the Every Newborn Tracking Tool.