This week, UNICEF signed a NZ$7 million arrangement to support the Government of Kiribati to provide improved maternal and child health care during the first 1,000 days – from the time a mother is pregnant until their child is two years of age.
Kiribati has the highest infant mortality rate amongst Pacific island countries and territories with one in 25 children dying before the age of one.
The rate is even higher in rural and poorer households. With support from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), UNICEF will work together with the Government of Kiribati to strengthen community and health systems as well as the quality of care.
“Access to proper health facilities and services is critical for children’s right to health and wellbeing.
Together with the Government of Kiribati, partners and communities, we will work to improve health systems and facilities supporting children during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – which is the most critical window,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.
About two-thirds of children who do not live to see their fifth birthday die in the first year alone in this small Pacific island country.
Through this partnership, the Government of Kiribati will focus on developing the health care system, increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, improve awareness among mothers and caregivers on essential family practices as well as improving national service quality standards in health facilities.