Every child has the right to health care, clean water, nutritious food and a safe environment so they can be as healthy as possible.
Yet in 2008, nearly 9 million children died before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes. An estimated 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and dirty water. Others die because they do not have enough food to eat. Sickness and malnutrition continue to stunt the growth and restrict the development of millions more.
UNICEF is the world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries. In 2008, we supplied vaccines for 56 per cent of the world’s children and delivered over 19 million mosquito nets. We lead and coordinate global activity on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and we work to ensure that children have clean water and adequate toilet facilities.
Safeguarding health during emergencies
In emergencies, UNICEF leads on the provision of water and sanitation, protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable children from preventable diseases and death. During food crises we provide training and support for health workers and distribute supplies such as ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat malnourished children.
With access to the highest levels of government in the countries in which we work, UNICEF helps to build and rebuild health systems, creating sustainable change. The depth of our work means we tackle the underlying causes of poor health: poverty, discrimination and lack of information about healthy diet and good hygiene.
Caroline is 10 years old. She lives in a village in Uganda surrounded by lakes. Her family used to rely on the lakes for water. But the lakes are dangerous – they contain bilharzia, a parasite that can cause life-threatening illnesses. View photo gallery.