Reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH)

For every child and mother, health

An infant
UNICEF Uganda/2014/Vassie

The Situation

Today, young children in Uganda have a better chance of survival than ever before. 

In 2011, one in 11 children died before the age of five, compared to one in seven in 2001. During the same period, infant mortality decreased from one in 18 to one in 11. This progress has been inspiring, as lives have been saved in some of the poorest communities. 

But mothers, so critical to the survival of children, are still being lost to preventable conditions. Eighteen mothers die every day in Uganda. 

Similarly, newborns are vulnerable and comprise a large proportion of under-five deaths: in 2011, one in 30 babies died in the first month of life. Most infant deaths happen in the first day or week of life because of poor care at the time of birth.

Not all Ugandan children have the best chance at life. Those born in rural areas, to the poorest families, and with uneducated mothers are most likely to die before the age of five. 

The deaths of most mothers and under-5 children can be avoided. They are caused by preventable diseases and conditions such as unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders, infections, heavy blood loss after birth, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and HIV. For both mothers and their infants, poor quality of care at childbirth, inequitable health services and inadequate family-care practices contribute significantly to their deaths. 

Infographic on reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

UNICEF Response

It is UNICEF's goal to see no child or mother die from a preventable illness. 

In the next three years we want to reduce neonatal mortality, in order to save the lives of 12,000 babies, 35,000 infants and enable more than 350,000 children to reach their fifth birthday.  

To reach this ambitious goal, we support the Ministry of Health help lead, coordinate, and monitor the Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Sharpened Plan for Uganda. Nationally, we conduct decentralized evidence-based planning and monitoring.

Using an online training tool, we help improve the skills of health workers to manage neonatal and childhood illnesses including early detection of disabilities. 

We're rolling out the national Community Health Worker/Village Health Team Strategy to address challenges of quality, sustainability and coverage. UNICEF uses evidence-based advocacy to target resources to increase integrated community case management, and improve the training and technical skills of the Ministry of Health.

Expected results 

  • If the target to reduce neonatal mortality to 16 deaths per 1,000 live births is achieved by 2020, the lives of over 12,000 more babies will be saved. 
  • If the target to reduce infant mortality to 36 deaths per 1,000 live births is met by 2020, the lives of nearly 35,000 more infants will be saved. 
  • If the target to lower under-five mortality to 50 deaths per 1,000 live births is reached by 2020, over 350,000 more children will live to see their fifth birthday.

I have the skills and confidence to follow my passion of saving the lives of mothers and babies.

Emmanuel Epou, trained as a comprehensive nurse through a UNICEF scholarship

#InvestInUGchildren: Realize Uganda's Vision 2040