What is UNICEF?


Founded in 1946, UNICEF now works in more than 150 countries to save children’s lives – through immunizations, nutrition, health care, emergency humanitarian assistance and programs that confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF is unique among global organizations.


We have turned innovative ideas into reality time and time again. For example, we have convinced warring parties to declare cease-fires inside countries to allow us to conduct immunization campaigns. We did it in El Salvador in 1985, in Iraq in 1991 and in Sierra Leone in 1998. All that we do helps children realize their full potential.


Founded in 1947, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF raises money for programs that support UNICEF around the world. The U.S. Fund also supports UNICEF with education and advocacy activities. The oldest of 37 national committees for UNICEF worldwide, the U.S. Fund is a vital part of the global effort to save and improve children’s lives.


Saving children’s lives


The U.S. Fund is not just the leadership and staff in its national and chapter offices, but a nationwide movement of celebrities, volunteers, corporate partners, non-governmental organizations and generous donors across the country – all working together to save kids’ lives. Whether we’re at the scene of a humanitarian disaster or on the ground fighting disease in a developing country, UNICEF is out to make life better for children – vaccination by vaccination and blanket by blanket.



This has been adapted from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF “Prospective Campus Initiative Club Program” Toolkit.


Eight examples of UNICEF’s significant accomplishments

  1. UNICEF’s accelerated child survival and development initiative in parts of West and Central Africa demonstrated that scaling up access to an integrated package of low-cost health interventions, focused on communities and families, can significantly cut child mortality rates.  In three years, child deaths in coverage areas dropped by an average of 20 percent. 
  2. UNICEF is a world leader in vaccine supply and immunization.  In 2007, UNICEF supplied a record high 3.2 billion vaccine doses, worth $617 million, reaching 55 percent of the world’s children.  Immunization efforts supported by UNICEF help prevent the deaths of  more than 2 million young children each year.
  3. UNICEF is a founding member of the Measles Initiative, with partners including the American Red Cross and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.  This initiative has mobilized more than $300 million to support immunization campaigns that helped cut global measles mortality by 74 percent between 2000 and 2007, from an estimated 750,000 to 197,000, a remarkable achievement.  But the job is not over – measles preys on vulnerable populations in humanitarian crises, and still kills more than 500 children a day even though there is a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine to prevent the disease.
  4. UNICEF is one of the largest buyers of mosquito nets in the world, procuring 18 million nets in 2007, nearly all of them long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets.  UNICEF is also a founding member of Malaria No More, along with the American Red Cross and the United Way, to help increase private sector support for buying and distributing bed nets and malaria medicine.
  5. Spearheaded by UNICEF, Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control, and others, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative helped reduce polio cases by more than 99 percent over the past two decades, from more than 350,000 cases in 1988 to an estimated 1,600 in 2008.  
  6. A global effort led by UNICEF, Kiwanis International, and others has increased household use of iodized salt from 20 percent to 70 percent, protecting 84 million newborns from brain damage caused by iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), and helping thirty-four countries achieve universal salt iodization.  
  7. UNICEF plays a critical role in helping children in humanitarian crises, in partnership with the United States.  For example, last fall after four hurricanes battered Haiti in the space of three weeks, UNICEF airlifted 60,000 liters of water and 12 tons of blankets, hygiene kits, water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts for emergency response, as well as hundreds of School-in-a-Box kits to help children continue to have access to education.
  8. UNICEF is a world leader in promoting basic education, particularly for girls, even during conflict and after disasters.  For example, during 2007, UNICEF helped the Afghanistan Government build more than three thousand community-based schools for 140,000 children in remote villages with no access to formal schools. 




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