Generally, the fields of child health and child protection are viewed and operate as two separate technical sectors. Like many technical areas in international development, these two sectors operate as silos and working cross-sectorally tends to be more of the exception rather than the norm. Yet, evidence shows that there is an inter-relationship and synergy between child health and child protection, and it would make sense if we did more to leverage that synergy.
We know, for example, that children who are registered at birth and receive birth certificates are more likely to access health services and receive all the health benefits that come with those services. We also know that children who are physically (and mentally) healthy are better suited to recover from the trauma associated with emergencies and armed conflict situations. This may be over-simplifying the correlation, but it is hard to deny the inter-relationships between child health and child protection.
There are some organic areas where child protection efforts can be coordinated and work in tandem with the health sector. For example, the opportunity that antenatal and obstetric health services afford to register births and deliver birth certificates is obvious. In fact, the coordination between birth registration and health is the foundation for an increasing number of birth registration programs, particularly those which use mobile technology, such as UNICEF’s Mobile VRS (Vital Registration System), reported in my last blog post.