UNICEF in Myanmar
1950 marked the beginning of UNICEF Myanmar. At that starting point, Myanmar’s campaign to prevent tuberculosis, supported by UNICEF, vaccinated about one million children a year, or roughly 80 per cent of annual births. As the decade of the 1960s came to a close, UNICEF’s Executive Director announced Myanmar’s Leprosy project, conducted through years of mass campaigning, as the most successful in the world. This was just the beginning of UNICEF’s activities and partnership with Myanmar’s governments. For the last 65 years, UNICEF has been working to positively change the lives of every child throughout the country.
As Myanmar writes a new chapter in its history, this is an excellent opportunity to achieve major gains for all children. UNICEF’s current country programme (2011-2015) had been extended to 2017 to ensure that the opportunities provided by various reforms address children’s needs and accelerate results for every child in the country, especially the most marginalized.
The changing political and social context within Myanmar has created many opportunities to improve the protection of children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Investing resources in building the systems needed to prevent and respond to child protection issues is critical at this point in time. Whilst important gains have been made, there are still serious protection concerns remaining, including the numbers of children in institutional care, treatment of children in contact with the law, prevalence of child labour, increasing rates of trafficking, and ongoing conflict and communal violence across the country.
UNICEF also supports the achievement of Basic Education and Gender Equality for all children in Myanmar. Our core work is focused around the donor-funded Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP). In addition, UNICEF works to enhance social cohesion through the Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) initiative.
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Myanmar has one of the highest maternal mortality and under 5 mortality rates in the region. Most of these deaths could be prevented through effective nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and health interventions, delivered through a strengthened health care system. UNICEF’s Young Child Survival and Development (YCSD) programme works with government, non-government and research partners to reduce maternal and child mortality, and illness in Myanmar.
In this context, UNICEF’s support will continue to focus on equitable service delivery, strengthening systems in education, health and nutrition, WASH and child protection and make them accessible to the most vulnerable children across the country, including through opportunities generated by decentralization. The organisation will support capacity building at Union, State and Township levels to develop and implement plans and budgets for children. UNICEF will also support sector reforms towards the development of policies and legislation that will accelerate the realisation of children’s rights.
In addition, UNICEF supports the response to the needs of children affected by conflict and natural hazards, and investment in preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience building strategies. Strengthening partnerships at national and state/regional levels with other organizations, civil society and Non-State Actors has been fundamental to delivering results for children.
UNICEF Myanmar has been implementing a comprehensive advocacy strategy to influence a range of decision makers and other relevant audiences. Increasing public finance for children; protecting and promoting the rights of all children in Rakhine State; children affected by armed conflict; the first 1000 days of a child’s life’s, and children with disabilities are the five office-wide advocacy priorities identified for the period 2014-2017.
UNICEF’s mandate is anchored in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its work is concerned with the fulfilment of the rights of every child, everywhere, and at all times- regardless of ethnicity, race, citizenship status of their parents, socio-economic status or ability.