Unicef in action
One of the major challenges for UNICEF and the Ministry of Health is to improve mother and child health status and the first priority is ensuring every child gets a Healthy Start in Life.
Through both the Promoting Effective Peri-natal Care (PEPC) project and Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) project, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health are training key health workers on best practices to ensure child survival and development through the phases of pregnancy, delivery , infancy and early childhood. An emphasis is also placed upon communicating with parents on better parenting at the household level.
UNICEF has also been working closely with the Ministry of Health to secure a National Breast Feeding Policy and to promote breastfeeding and other good nutritional practices within communities. UNICEF provided technical and material assistance to enable five hospitals to be officially certified as Baby Friendly Hospitals by international standards. Resources are now being mobilized for extension of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to other areas of Kosovo. Fifteen mothers support groups were also supported as models for disseminating best practice on breastfeeding, hygiene and child care.
UNICEF supported the creation of the Better Parenting Initiative (BPI) working group which has representatives of different institutions and organizations and which has developed materials appropriate for Kosovo parents to be distributed at the household level. This initiative aims to improve the parenting skills of parents and caregivers on mother and child health care, development, and better parenting. It is anticipated that by 2010 , every household in Kosovo will have be aware of better parenting practice through BPI.
Since the end of the conflict in 1999, UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry of Health to provide vaccines and delivery systems to ensure Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) of children against the major childhood diseases. In more recent years, UNICEF has provided technical assistance to enable the Ministry of Health to achieve 100 per cent self-financing for the procurement of vaccines , syringes and disposal systems. Special efforts are being made to reach excluded and disadvantaged communities-particularly ethnic minorities which have low coverage rates.In October 2003 a special measles/rubella immunisation campaign and a Vitamin A supplementation reached half a million children between 12 months to 15 years of age reaching . Immunisation activities are supported by public campaigns to raise the awareness of families on the need to get their children vaccinated-and to do so on schedule.
UNICEF has assisted the Ministry of Health in the establishment of a national Iodine Deficiency Disorders/Nutrition working group. The multi-disciplinary group is working to eliminate iodine deficiency and other micro-nutrition deficiencies within Kosovo.