Many childhood deaths in Mali are entirely preventable
Currently, every tenth child in Mali dies before the age of 5, while one in 30 newborns do not survive the first month of life. In addition, more than half of children infected by HIV at birth do not survive their first 2 years of life. In this context, reducing child and neonatal deaths are priorities for the Government of Mali and its partners.
Many of the diseases that kill children in Mali are entirely preventable. Unfortunately, only 45 per cent of children in Mali receive all basic vaccinations and 14 per cent receive no vaccination at all, depriving them from protection from common childhood illnesses.
Faced with these challenges, UNICEF in Mali supports the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to ensure that more children under the age of five survive and reach their full potential, with a particular focus on helping communities that are currently underserved.
In order to combat vaccine-preventable diseases in children and pregnant women, UNICEF in Mali works closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Gavi and WHO to provide critical vaccines for children, improve routine vaccination and support complementary vaccination (such as polio, measles and tetanus eradication and elimination campaigns). New and innovative approaches, such as digital registers of children vaccinated, and additional vaccination sessions at places where people gather – such as markets, schools, mosques and major bus stations – are being leveraged to achieve results, and communication and social mobilization during vaccination campaigns are being strengthened. UNICEF and partners have also been working to improve the cold chain through the introduction of solar-powered refrigeration, which keeps vaccines for children at a stable temperature when there is no reliable electricity source. In 2019, UNICEF in Mali supported the vaccination of nearly 4 million children against measles.
In the north of the country, UNICEF is working with partners to re-establish closed or damaged health facilities and to provide greater access to health services, including, medicines and supplies, as well as encouraging people to use the facilities available to them. UNICEF also supports mobile services for populations on the move or in the most isolated or conflict-affected areas, including mobile clinics which provide prenatal services, treatment of common illnesses in children, malnutrition screening and vaccination.
In the area of preventing and treating HIV, UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to promote early screening of children and the maintaining of children infected by HIV on antiretroviral treatment.
UNICEF continues to support the health sector to explore opportunities presented by the sector reform announced in 2019 and to establish and strengthen strategic partnerships and collaborations. UNICEF also aims to strengthen the community health system and helps equip and enable community health workers to provide high impact health services to families and communities in the most isolated and rural communities, as well as those affected by natural disasters and conflict.