Child survival and development
Under-five mortality in the Middle East and North Africa decreased by 25 per cent between 2000 and 2010, largely due to better access to health and vaccination services. However, 415,000 children continue to die every year before their fifth birthday.
Rates of chronic malnutrition are high, reaching more than a quarter of the children under the age of five in Djibouti, Egypt, Iran and Syria, and as many as 58 per cent of children in Yemen.
UNICEF fights malnutrition by promoting adequate feeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life and the use of micronutrients, and by increasing access to safe water.
Improving the health and nutrition of mothers-to-be and providing maternal health services are equally pivotal to fight the underlying causes of child mortality. It also helps address the high maternal mortality rates in the region, currently estimated at 179 per 100,000 live births.