Healthy children and families
The health programme of UNICEF encompasses maternal health, immunization, nutrition, clean water and safe sanitation interventions that enable children to have a healthy start to life, avoiding irreversible damage to their future cognitive and physical development.
The survival and growth of children begins from their mothers, and UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and partners with equal focus on maternal and child health. The programme aims at contributing to a 10 percent reduction in maternal mortality rate (current: 770/100,000 live births) and a 15 percent reduction in under-five child mortality rate (current: 78/1000 live births) by 2017.
UNICEF and partners are focusing on increasing access of children and mothers to high impact and cost-effective maternal, newborn and child health through expansion of the integrated child health initiative and active engagement of communities on integrated community case management. Three key areas of interventions include: (a) expanded programme on immunization which focuses on reducing vaccine-preventable diseases and protection against polio through increased coverage and usage of routine immunization of service sand introduction of new vaccines; (b) Primary health care focuses on efficiently managing health clinics and facilities, and ensuring implementation of the essential package of health services including malaria-control and access to reproductive health services for adolescent girls and women; and (c) PMTCT and scale-up of paediatric care fro children affected by HIV and AIDS.
Malnutrition is a serious problem among women and children. UNICEF is helping the government in reducing stunting from 41 per cent to 35 per cent among children under 5, specifically targeting children below 2 years, and children in the most marginalized south-eastern counties and urban Monrovia. UNICEF supported interventions are strengthening the institutional and policy frameworks for scaling up and sustaining nutrition interventions for pregnant women, adolescent girls and children. Service delivery is being decentralised to increase access and coverage of services by mobilizing community volunteers, women, and youth groups. Nutrition is being promoted as fundamental to development through increased advocacy and mobilization of opinion leaders, community radios and model mothers.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) component is helping increased access children’s access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. UNICEF is supporting the government and communities in implementing country’s WASH Compact and sector strategic plan which utilizes low-cost/high-impact approaches and effective leadership in emergency preparedness and response. It is promoting scaling up current operational strategies, including hand-pump maintenance, point-of-use water treatment and storage, community-led total sanitation, urban WASH and water quality surveillance. There is a renewed focus on services for the poorest communities in urban Monrovia and in the South-Eastern region, building on water-point mapping for better planning and targeting.