Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Child health

Standards for improving the quality of care for children and young adolescents in health facilities

A graphic representing children of various ages.

April 2018 -- These new standards aim to ensure that the care given to all children, including young adolescents, in health facilities is evidence-based, safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and appropriate for their age and stage of development. The standards were developed in the best interests of children, in recognition of the fact that their requirements are different from those of adults and to ensure their right to high-quality health care.

Nurturing care for early childhood development

A woman meets the gaze of an infant.

The Nurturing Care Framework for early childhood development builds on state-of-the-art evidence of effective interventions and recognises the critical importance of an enabling environment, with policies, information and services in a range of sectors including health, nutrition, education, social protection and child protection. The Framework has now completed a second online consultation. The finalized Framework will be launched at the time of the World Health Assembly in May 2018.

Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems essential for women's and children's health

A man shows a registration card, while holding his child.
Plan International

February 2018 -- WHO and UNICEF called for greater committment to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, key to increasing access to services and entitlements for women and children. In a Joint Statement released at the recent International Conference on Innovations in CRVS systems in Otawa, Canada, they restated their committment to work with governments and partners to implement evidence-based strategies for strengthening CRVS systems, to support innovative approaches and to ensure the needs of marginalised and vulnerable populations are addressed.

Daily, 7000 newborns die, despite decrease in under-five mortality

Elizabeth Wezena with babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital in the Upper East region of Ghana.

19 October 2017– Every day in 2016, 15 000 children died before their fifth birthday, 46% of them – or 7000 babies – died in the first 28 days of life. At current trends, 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns, according to the report released by UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA which make up the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

WHO releases guidelines to address overweight and obesity in children

A mother feeds her infant child; Nepal.
2013 Valerie Caldas, Photoshare

4 October 2017 – As part of its response to the global epidemic of obesity, WHO is today releasing guidelines to support primary healthcare workers identify and help children who are overweight or obese. In 2016 an estimated 41 million children under 5 were affected by overweight or obesity. Without effective treatment they are very likely to remain overweight and obese throughout their lives, putting them at risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and premature death, as well as suffering physical and psychological consequences in childhood.

New programme reporting standards for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programmes

Mother and child resting at postnatal ward, Cambodia.
WHO/WPRO/Y Shimizu

14 September 2017 – Reporting on health programmes often covers what was done and not how it was done and in what context. This information is key to understanding impact and can facilitate successful replication and scale-up. To address this, WHO is launching new standards for reporting on sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programmes at this year’s Global Evidence Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

WHO's work on child health

A mother feeds her child.

A group of childen.
  • Early child development
    WHO recommends a continuum of care – from preconception through the formative early years – to safeguard and maximize children’s developmental outcomes.
  • Breastfeeding and child growth
    Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
  • HIV and infant feeding
    WHO and partners recommend promoting and supporting breastfeeding and the provision of lifelong antiretroviral treatment to optimise HIV-free survival among HIV-exposed, uninfected infants and children.