Reaching one’s full potential in life begins before birth and is a fundamental right of every child. Every child should be brought into this world and raised in a healthy and protective environment, one in which all their health and nutrition needs can be met. Essential health services before, during and after birth together with caring, affectionate and stimulating interactions are the fundamental beginnings for families and their children. The UNICEF health programme, funded in larger part through a pooled donor funding mechanism “the Health Development Fund”, is focused on improving access to quality maternal, newborn and child health services, from both the supply and demand side. The UNICEF health programme supports the Government with such interventions as clinical mentorship to improve emergency obstetric and newborn care, the development and adaptation of key guidelines and job aids for antenatal care as well as essential newborn care for all babies, and promoting routine maternal and perinatal death surveillance reporting so that underlying causes of preventable deaths are better understood to inform policy and corrective measures put in place to improve future service provision. Support to improving immunization coverage remains at the core of reducing under 5 child deaths, through the procurement of vaccines, expanding the cold chain system, introducing new vaccines and vaccination outreach.
With respect to increasing demand for and participation in health service delivery, the UNICEF Health Programme technically supports the MoHCC in sustainably establishing a vast network of community health volunteers. These community health volunteers are an important resource for the country, bringing basic maternal and child health services and information closer to the people. In addition, the Programme is pursuing innovative interventions to accelerate the achievement of results, such as using digital and mobile phone platforms as well as other advances in medical technology and renewable energy. The programme seeks to strengthen the health system through support to the procurement and distribution of essential medicines nationwide. Operational costs for the health facilities are being provided through results based financing whose focus was recently shifted from payment for quantity to quality performance as a way of addressing some of the above-mentioned challenges. All these are guided by various policy frameworks most of which are produced with support from the programme.
By 2020, the UNICEF Health Programme has set the following targets: