Reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality
Under-five mortality in Kenya has fallen from 102 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019. However, every year, 64,500 children still die before reaching the age of five, mostly of preventable causes. Three quarters of these deaths occur before a child’s first birthday. Diarrhoea, pneumonia and neonatal complications are the main causes of death.
Children living in Kenya’s northern counties and urban informal settlements are more likely to die from preventable diseases than those living elsewhere. Currently, 88 per cent of children are fully immunized, up from 84 per cent in 2014, thanks to UNICEF and partners’ support to the Ministry of Health and county governments. However, only half of children in some pastoralist and underdeveloped counties are fully immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
All children and women have a right to health care, regardless of their income, who they are, or where they live. UNICEF is supporting the Government to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), which is one of the pillars of the ‘Big Four’ agenda. This includes technical and policy support in the areas of primary health care, community health, child maternal and newborn health, early child development, health system strengthening and during emergencies. Our support is expected to significantly contribute to UHC in Kenya.
UNICEF is also supporting the Government to increase the proportion of vulnerable children, pregnant and breastfeeding women who have equitable access to quality health services. We will continue focusing on reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality by supporting the introduction and scale-up of high impact interventions.
Through social mobilisation, UNICEF helps mothers and caregivers to understand the importance of health services, increase health-seeking behaviour and prevent harmful practices. We also aim to increase prevention and treatment of childhood diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, focusing on the most disadvantaged counties.
UNICEF is supporting the coordination of health partners at national and county level and is working to help ensure continuity of maternal, newborn and child health services. We are working in informal settlements to provide basic health services and promote health messages. UNICEF has also procured and distributed essential supplies, including personal protective equipment such as masks.
Health in numbers
Under five mortality dropped by 57% between 1990 and 2019.
In 2020, over 88% of children were fully vaccinated, up from 84% in 2014.
150 health managers and providers were trained on quality assurance in 2020, including COVID-19 prevention.
Funding for vaccine procurement increased by 80% in 2020.