Every child survives and thrives

Ensuring that all children and adolescents have good health, wellbeing and reach their full potential.

UNICEF/UN074383/Zehbrauskas

Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be the most unequal region in the world

Despite significant progress in development, Latin America and the Caribbean is still the most unequal region in the world. There are a high number of middle income countries that have significant parts of the population living below the poverty line. This has unique challenges with regards to health, especially when reaching the most disadvantaged groups. The cycle of poverty, and therefore poor health is perpetuated as girls, boys and adolescents living in the poorest households, with the lowest education opportunities, as well as those from Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are disproportionately burdened with poor health and living conditions. They also have the least access to quality health care services, including for life-saving interventions for neonatal health.

Only through equity-based strategies will the burden of poor health and nutrition be relieved in Latin America and Caribbean.

These inequalities are further seen through nutrition outcomes in Latin America and Caribbean with a double burden of malnutrition. The region sees pockets of high levels of stunting and acute malnutrition, which is particularly concerning for children under five. Critical malnutrition preventive practices like exclusive breastfeeding are reducing in many countries. On the other hand we see a widespread increase in child overweight and obesity.

Empowering adolescents enables them to take control of their health

Adolescent pregnancy rates are the second highest in the world, following behind sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, there has been a failure to reduce the rates of new HIV infections among adolescents, whilst consciousness of the risk of HIV is low. Mental health and wellbeing is growing in concern when observing trends in causes of mortality amongst this group.

An annual cycle of emergencies requires a focus on resilience

In a region that faces many emergencies, including the annual hurricane season, ensuring that communities and systems are resilient in crisis remains a priority. Latin America and the Caribbean is prone to several mosquito-borne disease outbreaks, including the recent Zika virus, as well as the reappearance of previously controlled communicable illnesses, such as measles. There is a specific concern on the capacity to prevent and address undernutrition at times of crisis, especially with regards to breastfeeding.

UNICEF

A transforming environment

To achieve optimal health, nutrition and wellbeing of all children and adolescents, a transformative environment that allows multisectoral collaborations and the active participation of children and adolescents is critical.

Together, we must ensure that girls, boys and adolescents in the region benefit from equitable policies and programmes that guarantee their health, wellbeing and full development.

UNICEF advocates for a multisectoral approach in achieving its ambitions for children’s health and wellbeing.

UNICEF will focus on supporting countries in the implementation of relevant multi-stakeholder global, regional and country-owned strategies, including engaging and leveraging the private sector for the realization of children’s right to health under the agreed Sustainable Development Agenda goals and targets, including Universal Health Coverage. We will strengthen health and community systems, promoting multisectoral action and building partnership in Health, Nutrition and HIV, including in fragile and emergency contexts.

Programmatic innovation is required to approach the new agenda

UNICEF’s work remains very varied and the region is always looking for new ways to achieve outcomes. Current projects include supporting regulation of labelling and marketing of foods to children, working with chefs across the region to provide child-friendly recipes that promote healthy eating, using predictive models to forecast public health emergency outbreaks, using technologies such as U-Report to send and receive crucial health information including in emergencies, strengthening capacities on monitoring of health inequalities and much more.

Furthermore, UNICEF will contribute to “learning agendas” such as prevention of overweight and obesity and non-communicable diseases, adolescent mental health, child road safety by generating evidence and promoting evidence-based advocacy and innovative approaches.

UNICEF/UNI131907/Dormino

UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean works to increase regional capacity to accelerate progress for children, adolescents, and maternal and neonatal health. Equity-focused innovative approaches in programming is a central pillar of our work. Continuing to generate evidence, including lessons learned from existing programmes, allows UNICEF to build upon countries’ experience for better policy making towards health outcomes. Community-based approaches are key to long term sustainability of these health outcomes, encouraging the adoption of desired health and nutrition behaviours in key groups with appropriate intercultural, gender sensitive and equitable interventions.

UNICEF seeks to contribute to the achievement of these objectives by:

  • Ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children, focusing on intercultural, gender-sensitive and equitable services.
  • Promoting health and development of all children and adolescents.
  • Reducing malnutrition (both stunting and overweight and obesity).        
  • Eliminating the vertical transmission of HIV (mother to child).
  • Accelerating the prevention and treatment of HIV among adolescents.
  • Building resilience for public health emergencies, including mosquito-borne diseases

Accelerate the progress of the women, newborns, children and adolescents' health

UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean works to increase regional capacity to accelerate progress for children, adolescents, and maternal and neonatal health. Equity-focused innovative approaches in programming is a central pillar of our work. Continuing to generate evidence, including lessons learned from existing programmes, allows UNICEF to build upon countries’ experience for better policy making towards health outcomes. Community-based approaches are key to long term sustainability of these health outcomes, encouraging the adoption of desired health and nutrition behaviours in key groups with appropriate intercultural, gender sensitive and equitable interventions.

UNICEF seeks to contribute to the achievement of these objectives by:

  • Ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children, focusing on intercultural, gender-sensitive and equitable services.
  • Promoting health and development of all children and adolescents.
  • Reducing malnutrition (both stunting and overweight and obesity).        
  • Eliminating the vertical transmission of HIV (mother to child).
  • Accelerating the prevention and treatment of HIV among adolescents.
  • Building resilience for public health emergencies, including mosquito-borne diseases

Resources

Health equity report 2016

UNICEF is part of the regional interagency mechanism Every women, every child - Latin America and the Caribbean

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To make every child survive and thrive, including adolescence, access to quality, affordable, gender responsive health care services should be available for all. Your donation can help UNICEF and its partners make sure every child survive and thrive.