Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Child health and development

More women and children survive today than ever before – UN report

Portrait of a mother and child.

More women and their children are surviving today than ever before, according to new child and maternal mortality estimates released today by United Nations groups led by WHO and UNICEF. Still, the new estimates reveal that 6.2 million children under 15 years died in 2018, and over 290 000 women died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Of the total child deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first 5 years, with almost half of these in the first month of life. Women and newborns are most vulnerable during and immediately after childbirth. An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or 1 every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes.

Management of the sick young infant aged up to 2 months - updated chart booklet and training manuals

August 2019 -- This update reflects the recent guidelines on Managing possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) in young infants when referral is not feasible published in 2015. It includes assessment, classification and referral of sick young infants (SYI) with PSBI; and outpatient treatment of SYI with local infection or fast breathing (pneumonia) in infants 7-59 days old. Other updates include: a new section on how to reassess, classify and treat SYI with PSBI when referral is not feasible in outpatient health facilities by IMNCI trained health workers; changes in assessment and management of young infants for HIV infection; and identification of infants less than 7 days of who need Kangaroo Care. The IMCI training course for health workers has been updated to reflect these updates to support the capacity building of health workers in using the updated SYI IMNCI chart booklet.

WHO revision of pain management guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) announces the revision process for two recently discontinued documents, “Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines” (2011) and “WHO guidelines on the pharmacological treatment of persisting pain in children with medical illnesses” (2012).

Improving the quality of paediatric care: an operational guide for facility-based audit and review of paediatric mortality

This operational guide provides guidance for establishing and conducting paediatric death audit and review as part of the overall quality of care improvement at the health facility. Death review or mortality audit is a means of documenting the causes of a death and the factors that contributed to it, identifying factors that could be modified and actions that could prevent future deaths, putting the actions into place and reviewing the outcomes. This document also complements the audit and review of stillbirths and neonatal deaths guide by providing guidance on review and auditing of paediatric deaths; adverse events, near-misses and other paediatric clinical cases of interest.

World Children's Day 20 November 2018

A group of children pose for a photograph.
Anil Gulati, 2005, courtesy of Photoshare

20 November 2018 – On this day in 1959 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Yet in 2016, 5.6 million children died before their 5th birthday from largely preventable causes. World Children's Day is an opportunity to focus on efforts to ensure every child not only survives beyond their fifth birthday, but thrives to realize their full potential.

Levels and trends in child mortality

A portrait of a child in Tanzania.
UNICEF

18 September 2018 – An estimated 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, or 1 every 5 seconds, mostly from preventable causes, according to new mortality estimates released by WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group. The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occurred in the first 5 years of life, with newborns accounting for around half. Globally, half of all deaths under 5 years of age took place in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 30% in Southern Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 children died before their fifth birthday. In high-income countries, that number was 1 in 185.

WHO releases recommendations on home-based records for maternal, newborn and child health

13 September 2018 – Home-based records have been widely implemented for decades. They are currently in use in at least 163 countries. They vary greatly in their design and content across countries and regions. However, the evidence of their benefits and harms has not been systematically reviewed and summarized. This guideline seeks to address this gap by reviewing the evidence of the effects of home-based records on maternal, newborn and child health outcomes and health service delivery outcomes.

Child health review considers the best country strategies to help each child survive and thrive

A yound girl sits with her arm around an infant.
Partha Sarathi Sahana

30 July 2018 -- The BMJ in partnership with WHO and UNICEF have launched a special collection of articles that explore how to achieve ambitious child health goals to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children across the world. The collection shares findings from a review of two leading global child health strategies, examines previous and current best practices and considers future needs when rethinking global and national child health programmes. It also aims to stimulate discussion and exchange between stakeholders at global, regional, and national levels, and provide a basis for policy and strategy changes at global and national level.

Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development launched at the 71st World Health Assembly

A woman meets the gaze of an infant.
K R Harsha/flickr

Investing in early childhood development is one of the best investments a country can make to boost economic growth, promote peaceful and sustainable societies, and eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. Equally important, it is necessary to uphold the right of every child to survive and thrive. Recognising this WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Early Childhood Development Action Network, have today launched a Nurturing care framework for early childhood development at the 71st World Health Assembly. The Framework was developed through a global consultation involving contributions from over 1000 individuals from 111 countries.

WHO's work on child health and development

A mother feeds her child.

A group of childen.
  • Early childhood 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.