UNICEF Papua New Guinea

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Country programme

© UNICEF PNG/2013/Sokhin
Children like this young girl deserve a solid start in life.

A programme for children

UNICEF exists specifically for children, and the reasons we invest in children are the same reasons that we ask donors to:

  • Children are vulnerable. Physically, they are more susceptible to disease, malnutrition, injury, and abuse.
  • Children are dependent. They need the support of adults, not only for physical survival, particularly in the early years of childhood, but also for their psychological, emotional, and social well-being.
  • Children are developing. Children grow in developmental sequences, and serious interruptions or deficiencies can severely disrupt that process and adversely affect them for their entire lives.

Certain interventions, such as increasing immunisation coverage and lowering the price of schooling, involve only moderate costs but will have high returns – in terms of human lives as well as economic productivity. Yet, every day many children in PNG are facing a ‘silent emergency‘ from lack of adequate nutrition. As a result, 45 per cent of all children under the age of five are stunted – that is, shorter than is normal for their age – and therefore they face poor brain development, low productivity as adults, and risk poor achievement of their full potential in life.

All girls and boys have the potential to be happy, healthy, and successful. But witnessing or experiencing emotional, sexual, and physical violence drains that potential and affects a child’s health, well-being, and future accomplishments. Further, up to 75 per cent of children in PNG experience physical violence, and half do not even feel safe in their own homes.

As Papua New Guinea is due to miss all of the Millennium Development Goals, the available data highlights significant issues relating to gender inequality, disease control, access to education, and the health of mothers and young children.

Our programme focus

To address this issues, we work with the Government to focus our programme on these key areas:

  • Education and gender equality
  • Child protection from violence and abuse
  • Young child survival and development – covering health, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation
  • Prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS

UNICEF has also worked on reviewing, drafting, and providing expert technical assistance for various acts and policies covering child protection, nutrition, and early childhood care. UNICEF works closely with the departments of Planning, Education, Health, and Child Protection to gather data and evidence so that policies and strategies can be better targeted to address critical child development issues.

At a more grass-roots level, UNICEF has been actively involved in a number of national immunisation campaigns. For example, in 2012–2013 the organization facilitated the vaccination of 1.2 million girls and women against tetanus and over a half-million children against measles and polio. UNICEF also provides technical support at the provincial, district, and the community level to make sure that coordinated efforts to reach every child with high-impact, life-saving interventions are effective.



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