Health and Nutrition Programme
UNICEF’s Health and Nutrition programme aims to improve access to quality healthcare, immunization services and to protect and promote diets, services and practices supporting optimal nutrition, growth and development for children, adolescents and women
The multiple crises that have plagued Lebanon and left most of the population struggling to survive, have stretched the health system to breaking point, with severe repercussions for children.
An exodus of medical professionals, a hiring freeze by health facilities and limitations on imports of medications and equipment have severely affected the ability to provide even the most basic healthcare. The removal of subsidies on essential supplies, including food, fuel, and some pharmaceuticals, has made matters worse.
The multiple crises, that have plagued Lebanon, stretched the health system to breaking point, with severe repercussions for children
Fuel shortages and power outages, coupled with the near collapse of Lebanon’s water sector, have left hospitals, health centres and households without reliable access to adequate amounts of safe water. At the same time, many families cannot afford the cost of drinking water. This could have disastrous consequences – particularly for children – such as an increase in waterborne diseases.
Immunization rates were already low before COVID-19, and the pandemic further affected routine vaccination of children, leaving hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to preventable and potentially deadly diseases such as measles, diphtheria and pneumonia.
Numerous families can no longer afford the cost of transporting their children to a health centre for basic immunization services, medication or treatment. Private sector care, which was widely used before the crisis, is now entirely out of reach for many households.
Lebanon is experiencing a growing triple burden of malnutrition (stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity) among children and adolescents and high rates of undernutrition among women. While children during their early years are facing increasing trends of stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and wasting, over-weight and obesity is a growing problem during the second decade of life. Significant per cent of children in Lebanon are not getting the diets they need to reach their potential growth and development. This coupled with insufficient nurturing care practices and reduced access and availability of the nutrition and child development services are driving the current situation.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), with support from partners, is ensuring availability of quality vaccines in public health settings, to maintain children’s immunity against vaccine preventable diseases. The vaccines are administered to children free of charge.
UNICEF is supporting improved access to vaccination services through mobile vaccination units and community-based outreach immunization.
A strong focus needs to be placed on vaccinating all children against vaccine preventable diseases, and on ensuring they receive all their routine vaccine doses at the scheduled age
A strong focus needs to be placed on vaccinating all children against vaccine preventable diseases, and on ensuring they receive all their routine vaccine doses at the scheduled age. This requires helping families reach health facilities and raising awareness among caregivers. UNICEF is supporting the upgrading of the cold chain for vaccines, including by providing solar power equipment and solarization of Primary Healthcare Centres.
UNICEF Lebanon adopts a systems approach to nutrition. This approach aims to utilize the five systems – food, health, water and sanitation, education, and social protection –to deliver nutritious diets, essential nutrition and child development services and positive nutrition and nurturing care practices for children, adolescents and women.
Rising Initiative is UNICEF Lebanon’s solution to the deteriorating nutrition and child development situation. Rising utilizes common multiple platforms to simultaneously address immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition and associated developmental deprivations and impairments among the most vulnerable children, adolescent and during motherhood.
Our key achievements
- UNICEF is providing the Ministry of Public Health with all essential routine vaccines that are provided for free in more than 800 public primary health facility and dispensaries
- UNICEF is reaching out to the most vulnerable communities in life-saving routine vaccines through Mobile Vaccination Units, whereby free vaccination is provided to all children from 2months of age till 18 years.
- UNICEF is ensuring quality of the vaccination service, through building the capacity of all the healthcare workers at the public primary health facility and dispensaries
- UNICEF has procured more than 1000 solar refrigerators to ensure clean and green energy source for all the cold chain required for safe storage of routine vaccines
- UNICEF is ensuring the collection and treatment of all vaccine waste from more than 800 public primary health facility and dispensaries; in addition, to the collection and treatment of COVID-19 vaccine waste.
- UNICEF is solarizing 150 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCC) to ensure the continuation of vaccination services along with other essential primary health services even during the extensive electricity cuts.
- UNICEF has reached to over 320,000 children under-5 and their caregivers with essential nutrition interventions that are aiming at enhancing adequate diets, promote nurturing care practices, and hence preventing all forms of malnutrition and the associated health and development hazards.