Every child has the right to survive and thrive.
Tremendous progress in child and maternal health has been achieved over the past decades. More children today live to celebrate their fifth birthday, while fewer women lose their lives during pregnancy and childbirth.
But millions are still dying from causes that can be prevented with quality health care and strong health systems – like communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental health conditions, injuries, malnutrition and environmental hazards.
Within and among countries, stark inequities persist when it comes to accessing live-saving care. Women and children living in poverty or with a disability are especially likely to be cut off from the services they need to survive and thrive. And for those suffering through violent conflicts, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies, the risk of disease and malnutrition soars.
Through it all, demographic changes threaten to strain global health systems. As fertility rates drop and life expectancies rise, income growth is also shifting young people into wealthier – but not necessarily healthier – environments. The next generation of children will live in an older, more urban world, with more people dependent on those in the workforce as public health emergencies and climate crises accelerate.
What we do
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires a global shift from treating diseases to strengthening health systems, so that children and women of reproductive age have access to affordable, quality care. UNICEF works around the world – including in some of the hardest-to-reach places – to help children grow up healthy and happy. Through public and private partnerships at the global, national and community levels, we focus on:
Maternal, newborn and child survival: UNICEF works to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths and stillbirths by scaling up essential maternal and newborn care, sustaining immunization programmes, and supporting preventive, promotive and curative services for pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and other child health conditions.
Child and adolescent health and well-being: We help children and adolescents build a solid foundation for adulthood by strengthening national health plans and age-specific services. UNICEF works with countries to combat non-communicable diseases, improve mental health, prevent injuries and support children with developmental delays and disabilities.
Strengthening health systems: UNICEF supports primary health care, especially at the community level, to help achieve universal health coverage. We strengthen integrated services for children, adolescents and women of reproductive age – focusing on health, nutrition, early childhood development, HIV and AIDS, and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene).
Health in emergencies: We help countries develop resilient health systems that can withstand crises, and provide frontline support in places affected by conflicts, natural disasters, migration, urbanization, and political and economic instability.