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Health in Emergencies and Humanitarian Setttings


Fouzia Shafique, Senior Adviser, Health

  • Across the world, humanitarian crises are becoming more frequent, complex and persistent, affecting more children than ever before. While encouraging progress has been achieved in improving child survival and wellbeing during the last several decades, conflicts, political and economic instability, and emergencies have threatened hard-fought development gains.

  • Globally, it is estimated that one in every 45 people require humanitarian assistance, the highest level that the world has ever witnessed. Children living in these contexts require humanitarian assistance to survive, thrive and achieve their potential as contributing members of a community. In humanitarian settings, the disruption or absence of critical health services such as antenatal care, skilled attendance at childbirth, essential newborn care, care for sick children, and routine immunization and care for common childhood illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections can be fatal. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these deprivations, increasing levels of poverty, widening disparities in access to basic services, and fueling the growth of inequities.

  • UNICEF has supported child rights including their right to health in humanitarian crisis for over 7 decades. Its Health in Emergencies and Humanitarian Settings work is responsible for ensuring that UNICEF’s Core Commitments to Children in Health are met through its advocacy with UN member states and all relevant stakeholders, coordination with players on the ground in multi-sectoral emergency responses, partnership with communities and community based and local organization, emergency preparedness and community and health system resilience and rapid, quality and comprehensive emergency response to ensuring availability of life saving health services.

  • The Health in Emergencies and Humanitarian Settings program brings together interventions along the life cycle including maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health including accelerated disease control such as VPD and Malaria control. In the last decade, to address the increasing and increasingly complex nature of humanitarian crisis UNICEF’s Health in Humanitarian crisis work has focused on resilience of health systems, risk informed programming and use of implementation research to continue to build evidence and use of digital technologies to address barriers inherent to humanitarian disasters.  

  • The program focuses on the most vulnerable populations in humanitarian settings including displaced population, children on the move including refugees, migrant and stateless children.

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