Child health, nutrition and early childhood development
Child health, nutrition and early childhood development, to enable equitable access to high-impact and quality health and nutrition services and support child development in the early years of life.
UNICEF will support the Government of Turkmenistan to achieve the overall result that by 2025, every new-born, child, adolescent and woman of reproductive age in Turkmenistan, especially those most vulnerable, increasingly benefit from equitable access to high-impact and quality health, nutrition and Early Childhood Development services.
In Turkmenistan, health services for children are widely available. Almost all deliveries take place in maternity facilities. The immunization programme — fully financed by the Government and supported by UNICEF procurement — covers 95 per cent of young children and is in full compliance with World Health Organization recommendations. While significantly reduced since independence, under-five and neonatal mortality is still in place, with main causes being perinatal conditions, congenital malformations, and respiratory infections. To reduce the mortality rates to the levels of the middle-income countries, it is necessary to build knowledge and skills of the medical staff, improve the quality of maternal and childcare in health facilities, as well as educate the parents to properly take care of their children. The systems for human-resources capacity development and health budgeting need to evolve, with additional focus on primary health care.
While exclusive breastfeeding is widely practiced, malnutrition continues to represent a public health challenge. Turkmenistan is fully financing fortification of premium and first grade flour with UNICEF procurement support. It is planned to assess impact of the fortification programme on the prevalence of anemia, which was high among women and children (2012, UNICEF). Although declining, stunting and overweight are still present among children.
The establishment of the universal early childhood development (ECD) services is underway in both health and education sectors but requires increased investments to go to scale. The newly adopted National Strategy on Early Childhood Development for 2020–2025 emphasizes the need for human resources capacity development across all sectors, cross-sectoral coordination, data and monitoring systems, and targeted support to the most vulnerable children, families and communities.
UNICEF’s work with partners will focus on three main areas of intervention to contribute to achieving this result:
Child health: UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry to strengthen its capabilities, normative base and tools to improve quality of services for newborns, young children and mothers, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
- Supporting Government efforts in strengthening healthcare system, in particular mother and child health
- Building skills, knowledge and practices of managers and health care providers in maternity and primary health care facilities to enable adequate treatment and prevention of newborn and childhood illnesses
- Supporting preventive measures, including immunization and infection prevention and control, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
- Providing technical expertise in revising and costing the free-of-charge basic benefit package to reduce the burden of health expenditures on families with children
Child nutrition: UNICEF will support the implementation of the National Nutrition Programme for 2020–2025 and strengthen intersectoral coordination, implementation, and monitoring mechanisms to improve nutrition status of children.
- Addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women
- Strengthening the system for promotion and monitoring of infant and young child feeding
- Training health-care professionals to provide quality counselling on nutrition and promote healthy nutrition and hygiene practices among population
- Revising the flour fortification formula and advice on introducing new supplementation schemes
- Building on the role of Turkmenistan as the secretariat for the Regional Nutrition Capacity Development and Partnership Platform and facilitating the exchange of ideas and information with other countries and documentation of the good practices of Turkmenistan
- Supporting the generation and analysis of nutrition-related data to improve nutritional status of children
Early childhood development: UNICEF will support the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry in establishment of a system to ensure that every child fulfills his/her potential within healthcare system with particular focus on primary healthcare.
- Strengthening home-visiting services as an important platform to improve early childhood development, child health and counselling
- Scaling up of early identification of delays and disabilities among all young children using up-to-date instruments, with clear referral mechanisms established for children with developmental delays in early years
- Offering the families gender-sensitive information empowering them for the best care for young children