UNICEF holds camp on sickle cell anaemia

Ahmedabad: An awareness programme on sickle cell anaemia was jointly organised by the state government and UNICEF at a Community Health Centre in Dungry village of Valsad district on Thursday to mark World Sickle Cell Anaemia Day.

Jairaj Parmar at Sangam Hospital in Vadodara.

Dr Yogendra Mathur, the Chief Representative of UNICEF in Gujarat, said on the occasion that all governments have signed the UN resolution stating that it is the fundamental right of a child to be safeguarded against any physical or mental disability. Dr Mathur said that this year marked a century of the discovery of the disorder by James Harrick in 1910.

Dr Yazdi Italia, Director, Sickle Cell Anaemia Control Program, said: “A total of 30,30,793 individuals between the age of six months and 30 years have been targeted for screening of the sickle gene.”

He said that 64 counsellors have been appointed under the Sickle Cell programme in 12 tribal districts. An Indian Council of Medical Research survey done on primitive tribes in south Gujarat revealed that 30 per cent children with Sickle Cell disease die by the age of 14 years; publications worldwide say 20 per cent of deaths due to the disease occur by the age of two. So far, 1,300 newborn children have been screened by the government.

From Indian Express

UP tops list of states in number of child labourers

This is the status of child labour in Uttar Pradesh.

In 1991, UP stood second with 14.10 lakh child labourers, while Andhra Pradesh topped the country charts. Ten years later, UP was first with 19.27 lakh child labourers, while Andhra Pradesh’s figure had come down to 13.63 lakh. Recent surveys have shown that a large number of childen here, though enrolled in schools, are still working as labourers. And despite schemes like the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and the Conditioner Cash Transfer (CCT) to check the practice, the numbers refuse to go down.

These revelations were made at a day-long seminar on Anti-Child Labour Day organised jointly by the state Department of Labour and UNICEF in Lucknow on Saturday.

Conceptualised by UNICEF, the CCT runs in 10 districts of the state. These districts — Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Moradabad, Firozabad, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Azamgarh and Sonebhadra — were identified as places with a huge population of child labourers. The scheme involves an annual support of Rs 8,000 to the family of a rescued child labour, besides a monthly scholarship of Rs 100 on the condition that the child will study and not go back to work.

Talking about the initiative in Lucknow, where 37 children avail of the CCT scheme, Additional Labour Commissioner R B Lal said the government is trying to identify more children under the programme.

“Most of these children were rescued from the zari-zardozi industry and are studying in NCLP schools. But, their families are very poor and cannot survive without their earnings. Hence, they have been taken under the CCT cover.”

Speaking about the CCT programme, UNICEF’s child welfare expert Rajib Ghoshal said the scheme has shown positive results. “Though the pace is slow, the results are showing. In several places in Moradabad and even Lucknow, children have not gone back to work for the last one year. There are 260 children covered in the state under the scheme and we hope the number will increase,” said Ghoshal.

After two years, the scheme needs to be upscaled, said Ghoshal, addding: “It is important to ensure convergence among different departments like labour, education and health to ensure that child labourers are not just pulled away from work, but also given basic facilities through monetary support.”

UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office (Uttar Pradesh) Adele Khudr said it is important to have a child protection commissioner or an officer in the state to monitor the schemes.

From Indian Express

Anganwadi children unsafe in dilapidated building

Maintenance work has not been done for the past several years

ERODE: Children attending the anganwadi in Sangu Nagar are facing serious threat to their life as it operates from a dilapidated building.

Risking lives: The damaged building of an anganwadi at Sangu Nagar in Erode poses danger to the children. People urged the officials concerned to shift the centre immediately. - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

The State government had not taken up any repair or maintenance works in the centre for the past several years. “Chunks of concrete break off from the roof and fall on the floor often”, people complain.

“Many parents are not sending their children to the centre on a regular basis fearing their safety,” a senior citizen said.

The centre also lacks adequate space. Children sit in open space or on the corridors of the building to have their lunch.

“With the mercury soaring to unbearable levels, children are finding it very difficult to sit outside the building,” people point out.

The centre is run under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, which aims at improving the nutritional and health status of children in the age group of 0-6 years and to lay foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child.

The present condition of the centre in Sangu Nagar defeats the very purpose of the ICDS scheme. The centre also lacks basic amenities, which is adversely affecting the health of the children. People have taken the issue to the authorities at the ICDS office and the district administration to shift the centre to a safe location. “But no fruitful efforts have been taken to sort out the problem,” people complained.

From THE HINDU

Chennai: Unhygienic toilets cause hardship to schoolchildren

Students of some Corporation schools in Chennai have little choice

CHENNAI: Students in some of the Corporation schools in the city are in a fix. They cannot use the toilet when they need to, due to lack of hygiene and poor maintenance.

The stench near the primary block in the Corporation-run school in Saidapet was unbearable. Going past the toilet block to get to the headmistress’ office is a very difficult task. But hundreds of children have little choice.

With the entire area outside the toilet wet with water leaking from one of the pipes, the space clearly flouts even the basic norms of hygiene. “I don’t use the toilet everyday, but today, I had to,” said a class VI student.

The toilets at another school in West Mambalam were not usable for weeks together because of a sewage block. “I complained to the engineer in the Works Department [of the Corporation] several times, but he kept telling us that they did not have funds,” said the headmaster.

Later, thanks to a school function that the Mayor was to participate in, the Works Department official was forced to attend to the issue, fearing that the students might complain to the Mayor.

“In the case of government schools some delay is understandable since they have to coordinate with the Public Works Department. But in the case of Corporation schools, why should action be delayed when the civic body has a Works Department to look at these matters?” he asked.

Vasantha Balakrishnan, former headmistress, Presidency Government Girls Higher Secondary School, said that about five years ago, the toilets in many government and local body schools were in very bad condition. “However, things have improved now. In addition to the School Education Department’s efforts, organisations such as the Rotary and Lions Clubs have contributed significantly.”

Emphasising the need for proper toilet facilities, she said that school heads should push for adequate facilities. “Girls, particularly those who have reached puberty, cannot manage otherwise.”

Agreeing with her, the head of a girls’ school in Central Chennai said some girls even dropped out of school because of this.

“Sometimes, even our staff toilets are pathetic. We know the difficulty faced by students, but we are helpless.” she said, adding that teachers put in their own money to buy disinfectants.

“I almost never use the toilet at school. If I go in, I’ll feel nauseous,” said a high school girl of the school.

Health issues

The habit of refraining from using the toilets could have serious medical implications, according to Sarada Suresh, Director, Institute of Child Health.

“We do hear of many children not using the toilets in school. They also end up drinking less water. But this could cause formation of stones in the kidney,” she said, referring to the increasing number of cases of children with small stones in the kidney.

“Also girls having their periods should change their napkins often. They might get reproductive track infections due to poor hygiene. In fact, lack of hygiene can lead to host of skin and other infections, too,” she said.

When contacted, Mayor M. Subramanian said: “We are particular about the infrastructure in schools. If students, teachers or heads bring up specific issues, we will certainly attend to them immediately.”

Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said: “We have outsourced labour for cleaning and maintenance now. School heads should supervise their work. We are also taking up regular inspections.”

Meera Srinivasan From THE HINDU

India: 97,000 kids tested with AIDS from 2007-2009

As many as 96,942 children tested positive for AIDS during the last three years in India, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said Tuesday.

The highest was in Andhra Pradesh with 22,559 children testing positive for the disease followed by 21,835 in Maharashtra and 15,082 in Tamil Nadu.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Trivedi said: “The government has taken several steps to protect children from HIV infection.

“Identification, counseling and prophylactic treatment to HIV positive pregnant women and new born babies, diagnosis of HIV positive children and spreading public awareness.”

From TOI

UNICEF hails India’s measure for child rights

The special edition of ‘The State of the World’s Children’ – released here on Friday – notes that fewer under-five children die in India now as the national mortality rate fell from 117 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 in 2007

As the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child this week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday acknowledged the measures taken by India to ensure that children can “survive and thrive.” But, this came with the reminder that India – home to one fifth of the world’s children – had miles to go before it can claim to have given all of the country’s children the rights they are entitled to and the rights they deserve.

A street child Vijay stands on a pile of garbage in Dharavi in Mumbai. File Photo: AP

The special edition of ‘The State of the World’s Children’ – released here on Friday – notes that fewer under-five children die in India now as the national mortality rate fell from 117 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 in 2007. More children have access to improved drinking water, rising from 62 per cent in 1992-93 to 88 per cent in 2005-06. And, more girls go to primary school with attendance rates for girls in the six-to-10 age group increasing from 61 per cent to 81 per cent.

Flip side

On the flip side, one million newborns die each year in their first month itself and another million die between 29 days and five years. Besides, disparities persist between social and economic groups and this reflects on various social indices.

Early marriage still persists with the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showing that 47 per cent of the women in their early 20s had been married before they turned 18. This, in turn, affects the health of their children; more so since many of these women come from poor families.

Malnutrition rates continue to be very high and the percentage of underweight children in the zero-to-three age group was in the vicinity of 46 per cent in 2005-06 – down only by six per cent in 20 years — as per NFHS. Though sanitation has improved over the past two decades, reaching the Millennium Development Goal in this regard remains a great challenge.

From THE HINDU

UNICEF: 5000 children under 5 die in India everyday

New Delhi, Nov 20 (PTI) Despite a decrease in child mortality figures, 5,000 children under the age of five die in India everyday due to preventable causes, according to a latest UNICEF report.

Within the under five mortality rate, the maximum 96 per cent of children who die belong to the Scheduled Tribes, 88 per cent to Scheduled Castes and 59 to general population.

“It is early marriage and inadequate health care of women which adversely affects the survival of their children,” said Karen Hulshoff, Country Representative of UNICEF in India said.

The report says malnutrition rates in India continue to be very high. Though the percentage of malnourished children below the age of three has decreased from 52 per cent to 46 per cent, it is still way below the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Forty seven per cent of women had deliveries with skilled health provider, it said.

From PTI News