Health and Nutrition

Child Health and Nutrition


Child Health and Nutrition


This programme contributes to accelerate child survival and optimal growth, freedom from preventable diseases (especially HIV) and safe sanitation and hygiene 2018 by focusing on a improving newborn care; improving the nutritional status of children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers; elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and other critical child survival interventions; improving access of adolescents living with HIV to comprehensive services including psycho-social care; and focusing on early infant diagnosis and treatment of HIV.

In addition, improved hygiene practices and ensuring provision of appropriate nutrition and water and sanitation services during emergencies are also a priority.

It contributes to bridge the gap between health facilities and communities by scaling up the health extension programme and influence policy, legislation and budget for child survival and development through advocacy, knowledge management and innovations.

Our focus

Too many mothers, babies and children continue to die of preventable and treatable diseases in Namibia. Thousands of children are chronically malnourished, compromising their growth and development. The public health care system struggles to reach the children and women who need it most. In the midst of these immense challenges, UNICEF is striving hard to improve access to high-impact health, nutrition, HIV, sanitation and hygiene services for young children under the age of 5, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and adolescents at risk of HIV infection.

Our approach

Most child deaths can be avoided or treated by existing and inexpensive means. However, ensuring that every child and mother benefits from them is a challenge in Namibia. UNICEF uses an equity-focused approach that prioritises the provision of services for the most deprived communities. UNICEF believes that this is an effective strategy to reduce the significant disparities in the coverage of child and maternal health and nutrition programmes.

In collaboration with line ministries (Education, Arts and Culture and Health and Social Services) and UN partners, UNICEF works to strengthen an integrated approach to health programming at school level. Effective learning and engaged participation in school activities depends on good health and psycho-social well-being of every school going child.

Our achievements

Over the past few years, UNICEF support to the Government and other partners has helped to build stronger national policies, strategies and plans in child and maternal health, nutrition, HIV and sanitation while improving service delivery on the ground.

  • The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Country Implementation Plan and Child Survival Strategy 2014–2018 were launched in 2014, creating a more coordinated, integrated and effective way to address child health and nutrition and save lives in the long run.
  • Vulnerable babies, children and women living in remote and under-served areas will now stand a better chance of avoiding illness or getting medical attention when needed through the health extension worker programme. The programme, which trains local individuals to deliver a package of community based family services and to refer mothers and children to health facilities, is being scaled up to all 14 regions by 2016.
  • Namibia is addressing the high rates of newborn and maternal mortality through UNICEF-supported training of government health care providers in neonatal resuscitation, antenatal care, and emergency obstetric and newborn care. Health facilities and health extension workers have been equipped with infant and child resuscitators, respiration timers, infant scales, newborn incubators and thermometers to better deal with medical emergencies in babies.
  • Mass campaigns, combining child and maternal immunisation, vitamin A supplementation, deworming, screening and referral of malnutrition in children continue to take place annually through African Vaccination Week and Maternal and Child Health Week.
  • Open defecation, one of the leading causes of diarrhoeal deaths worldwide, is also widely practised in Namibia. In 2014, UNICEF helped to develop a communication strategy called Open Defecation Free Namibia (ODFN). A roll-out plan was endorsed in July 2015. ODFN will include advocacy to raise awareness of the importance of sanitation for health and development and a mass media campaign to mobilise the public to act.
  • UNICEF partners with the Namibian Red Cross (NRCS) and government partners to respond to recurring droughts and disease outbreaks. NRCS staff and health extension workers have been trained to screen for acute malnutrition, as well as in basic hygiene promotion and cholera prevention. Cholera, which swept through certain parts of the capital, Windhoek, in 2014, was successfully contained thanks to a coordinated response. Close to a million water purification sachets, 100,000 packets of oral rehydration salts, 100,000 bars of soap and other supplies were provided to communities. Community-based infant and young child feeding activities in drought-affected areas in the north resulted in nearly 4,700 children and pregnant women being screened. Of these, close to 2,530 were referred to health centres for further assessment and treatment.
  • The First Annual School Health Forum was held in 2015 and established a platform for a cross-sectoral collaboration on matters of school health. The Forum helped develop networking skills and strengthen collaboration among school health implementers and established a basis for information-sharing and exchange of ‘best practices’. A milestone was achieved when education and health stakeholders deliberated in joint sessions on the inter-ministerial Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, a key document expected to guide the implementation of a comprehensive integrated school health programme.



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