Children's Health Programme

The children's health programme portfolio comprises (as of end 2005) 61 projects valued at $432.5 million, the majority of which have been completed. It includes grants covering a range of areas including: measles prevention, polio eradication, malaria control, preventing tobacco use, decreasing child mortality through prevention of HIV/AIDS; delivering micronutrients, and integrated management of childhood illness at the community level. Programme activities take a preventive approach to children's health and seek to ensure that interventions funded by the UN Foundation through UNFIP, together with other funding partners, contribute to strengthening public health infrastructure and build capacity for service delivery and surveillance in developing countries.

The main areas of support in the children's health portfolio include measles and malaria control and prevention, and polio eradication.

Measles Prevention
Measles affect over 30 million children and claim 454,000 lives each year - more than half of them in Africa. Measles is also the single leading cause of vaccine-preventable death among children. The good news is that measles can be easily prevented with a simple vaccination that costs less than one dollar per child.

Recognizing the opportunity to address this challenge, the Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, is a long-term partnership formed on the basis of a common commitment to control measles deaths starting in Africa by vaccinating at-risk children. At the end of 2005, the Measles Initiative had vaccinated 217 million children in more than 40 African countries, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives. Going forward, the Measles Initiative will continue to support WHO's 47 priority countries and the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy goal to reduce measles deaths by 90% by 2010 compared to the 2000 levels. The Measles Initiative will heavily focus on the three countries that account for the majority of global measles deaths: India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Leading the Measles Initiative effort are the American Red Cross, WHO, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the UN Foundation in collaboration with UNFIP. The Measles Initiative bases its success on a far reaching partnership between public and private institutions, including other key players the fight against measles such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Canadian International Development Agency, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the countries and governments affected by measles, among others.

Polio Eradication
Polio is one of the few major diseases that is close to being eradicated, providing a unique public health opportunity to make a lasting contribution to humanity. WHO, UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the support of donor governments, private sector foundations, including Rotary International, the UN Foundation and The Gates Foundation, are spearheading efforts to support the final stages of polio eradication through The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the largest international public health effort in history. As of end 2005, a total of $91 million had been approved for the Initiative that was launched in 1999. As of early 2006, the number of countries with indigenous polio had dropped to an all-time low of four, polio eradication efforts had entered a new phase involving the use of next-generation vaccines targeted at the two surviving strains of virus.

Malaria Control
Malaria is a "silent tsunami" that kills more than 150,000 people every month (almost 2 million per year) and causes more than 300 million episodes of malarial illness in over 100 countries. It particularly affects the most vulnerable: children of 5 years of age and under, who account for more than 90 percent of all deaths from malaria; pregnant women; and people infected with HIV/AIDS. A few examples of innovative partnership initiatives supported by UNF/UNFIP in the area of malaria prevention and control include:

The Rollback Malaria Partnership - an inter-agency initiative led by WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and The World Bank to halve the world's malaria burden by 2010. The initiative is growing rapidly, bringing together the private sector, foundations, academic institutions, civil society and governments to contribute their expertise and funding toward achievement of this common goal.

A significant limiting factor in malaria control, especially in Africa, is the short supply of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. The long-lasting treated nets can be used without replacement for an estimated three-years, providing continued protection. UNF/UNFIP have been engaged in supporting efforts to develop strategic approaches to solve the financial and other barriers to developing country markets for the supply and purchase of bed nets. Working with the American International Group (AIG), the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, The World Bank, ExxonMobil and others, risk management tools are being developed that can be applied to insure payment of treated bed net suppliers in order to scale-up capacity to meet global demand while reducing supply chain inefficiencies. The expected outcomes are improved product diversification and quality and reduction in delivery delays processes.

In 2006, the UN Foundation launched the 'Nothing but Nets' initiative - a grassroots campaign asking individuals to donate $10 to "send a net, save a life". Each $10 donation pays for an insecticide treated bed net to a family in need in Africa, and provides education on its proper use to prevent Malaria. This campaign was created after Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly's May 5, 2006 column, "Nothing but Nets," raised $1.2 million. More than 120,000 bed nets have already been delivered in Nigeria as a result of Reilly's call to Sports Illustrated readers to donate $10 to purchase insecticide-treated mosquito nets.