Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Child health

World Immunizaton Week 24-30 April

The Indigenous Health Teams members check vaccine packaging, Brazil.
WHO/A. Zambrana

The journey of vaccines in Brazil. Thanks to a highly effective National Immunization Programme, most Brazilian parents can feel confident that their children will get the lifesaving vaccines they need – when they need them. Routine vaccination coverage in the country averages above 95% for most vaccines on the child immunization schedule every year – exceeding WHO’s recommendation of at least 90% coverage.

Environmental pollution kills 1.7 million children each year

Children playing on the beach at low tide in Hangan Village, Buka, Papua New Guinea
WHO/Y. Shimizu

6 March 2017 – Environmental risks cause more than 1 in 4 deaths in children aged under 5 years every year, according to 2 new reports from WHO. Children are especially vulnerable to pollution due to their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways. The most common causes of death – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia – are preventable with safe water and clean cooking fuels.

Managing possible serious bacterial infection in young infants when referral is not feasible

A mother and her newborn child.
S Qazi

13 February 2017 -- Infections are responsible for about one fifth of the world’s annual 2.7 million neonatal deaths. In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa about one quarter of all neonatal deaths are due to infections, Hospitalization and life-saving treatment for the sick infant may not be accessible, acceptable or affordable to families in settings with high newborn mortality. A new WHO/UNICEF Statement in support of 2015 WHO guidelines provides options for the use of simplified antibiotic regimens that are both safe and effective for outpatient treatment of clinical severe infection and fast-breathing pneumonia among young infants weighing at least 1.5 kg.

Investing in early childhood development essential

A father holds his young child.
WHO/D Rodriguez

5 October 2016 – An estimated 43% of children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries – 249 million children – are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, according to a new publication series from The Lancet. WHO contributed to the series, which reveals effective interventions that may cost as little as 50 US cents per child per year when combined with existing services.

World Immunization Week 2016: Close the immunization gap

24-30 April 2016 -- Immunization averts 2 to 3 million deaths annually. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, if global vaccination coverage improves. Today, nearly 1 in 5 children worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases. During World Immunization Week 2016, WHO highlights recent gains in immunization coverage, and outlines further steps needed to meet global vaccination targets by 2020.

Updated guidance on the care of critically ill children

23 February 2016 -- Children admitted to hospital often die within 24 hours of admission. Many of these deaths could be prevented if very sick children are identified soon after their arrival in the health facility, and treatment is started immediately. This updated guideline provides clinical guidance on the most common emergency conditions in children presenting at a health facility, including airway obstruction, shock, seizures and severe dehydration.

Improving paediatric quality of care at first-level referral hospitals

3 December 2015 -- Major gaps exist in many health facilities between evidence-based standards of care and the actual quality of services that are provided. In responding to this challenge, WHO has been working with countries to improve the quality of paediatric care in the district hospitals, building upon evidence and practical experiences. This report reflects the proceedings from a meeting held 27–28 July 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together the 4 implementing countries, experts who provided support, WHO staff and the representatives from the Russian Federation as the donor.