Medicines prevent and treat diseases that threaten the lives and well-being of children, adolescents and their caregivers.
Without access to quality, safe and effective medicines, children are exposed to preventable and treatable diseases. Pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria are some of the most life-threatening for children under five years of age.
This is especially true for vulnerable children in resource-limited settings, conflicts and disasters, where lack of lack of access to medicines compromises not only their right to health, but also their ability to survive and thrive.
Sometimes, even when quality and safe pharmaceuticals are available, ensuring that these medicines are in formulations that are appropriate for children can be challenging. Administering accurate doses is critical for proper treatment of children. However, many medicines are only available in formulations that are appropriate for adults and not children.
Ensuring a reliable supply of quality pharmaceuticals that are appropriate for children takes expertise, diligence and attention to detail.
UNICEF procures pharmaceuticals to prevent and treat diseases that affect children, adolescents and their caregivers. These medicines include those for acute respiratory infections, sepsis and other infections that affect newborns, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and HIV. These are based on World Health Organization (WHO)’s guidelines and standards. UNICEF works with WHO and other partners to promote the development of paediatric formulations of medicines, including dispersible tablets that disintegrate in water or a small amount of breast milk.
In 2021, UNICEF procured $99.1 million worth of pharmaceutical products including:
- 350.8 million amoxicillin pneumonia treatments for children under 5 years old, reaching 54 countries
- 1.6 million packs of antiretroviral medicine to treat 54,333 adults and 21,601 children with first-line therapy for one year in 37 countries
- 20.6 million Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) malaria treatments delivered to 29 countries
- 52.5 million cotrimoxazole tablets to treat bacterial infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis, delivered to 16 countries
- 34.6 million sachets of oral rehydration salts (includes 5.9 million co-packaged ORS/zinc) delivered to 43 countries
- 7.5 million treatments for seasonal malaria chemoprevention to protect 1.9 million children
- 15.2 million courses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine chemoprevention to protect 5.1 million pregnant women
We require that good manufacturing, quality and regulatory standards are met before procuring medicines. Procurement is done for supply to more than 100 countries, either directly from suppliers or through UNICEF’s Copenhagen warehouse.
Our work in ensuring a healthy future for every child means we must also build our capacity to address emerging global health priorities. New areas of focus for procurement include medicines for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and mental disorders, as well as medicines for priority public health programmes such as hepatitis C.