Health and Nutrition

UNICEF works to ensure the availability of emergency health and nutrition services and the scale up of high-impact maternal and child interventions

UNICEF/Syria2018/

Challenges

UNICEF works across Syria focusing on areas where children and mothers are most vulnerable, responding to the immediate needs of the internally displaced people and host communities through implementing partners.

In coordination with other UN agencies such as WHO and UNFPA, UNICEF focuses on a primary health care approach through health facilities and communities. At the same time activities geared towards systems building and enhancing resilience are beginning to receive more attention.

After many years of conflict, the challenges are quite significant:

  • More than half of the pre-conflict number of health facilities are not fully functional, suffering   physical damage and loss of skilled health workers.
  • Degradation of the health infrastructure has compromised the health status of women and children, with frequent outbreaks of communicable diseases that were hitherto under control across the country, such as polio and measles.
  • The disruption of vital sectors, such as water and sanitation and pharmaceutical, as well as food insecurity have further exacerbated the precarious health situation for women and children.
  • Programmatic access is still limited in some parts of Syria, due to prevailing effects of conflict in most cases.
  • There is a significant deficit in terms of the availability of data and information on the status of health services and outcomes, crucial for early recovery efforts and planning.

Solutions

UNICEF’s medium-term response to address the prevailing challenges in the sector include:

Continuing emergency interventions as more areas become accessible for programming, while simultaneously focusing attention on improving the quality of these emergency health and nutrition interventions.

Systems and resilience building interventions will also feature more prominently in programming, through:

  • Service delivery: UNICEF will work with other partners to expand the availability of key interventions in the package for comprehensive primary health care, with a particular attention to the most deprived areas.
  • Full revitalization of the routine immunization program that is already underway and is expected to continue into the near future.
  • Community and facility based interventions to prevent undernutrition and optimal development of children.
  • Capacity building for the new wave of frontline health workers expected to be recruited to fill existing gaps.
  • Contributing to the upgrade of new-born care services in a number of secondary facilities.
  • Supporting the supply chain for vaccines and essential commodities in nutrition, as part of the systems building, with a view to ensuring an uninterrupted supply of these items in the medium term and working to transit to full government ownership and participation in the longer term.
  • Supporting planning and recovery efforts, by contributing to the revamping of data and evidence generation routine systems, complemented by surveys as the need arises.

Resources

Find more information on this programme at our Research and Resources section.

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