Unicef: Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative for Coimbatore

COIMBATORE: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) and Rotary Club of Coimbatore Spectrum have teamed up to implement in the district the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) , a project of the UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. The major focus of the project is on promoting breast feeding to eliminate infant mortality. Maternity centres in the district will be sensitised to this, Rotary Club president Sudarsan Rajagopalan told presspersons here on Wednesday.

The other focus is on establishing a system of accreditation of maternity centres. “People will have to know that deliveries should be conducted only in BFHI-accredited hospitals where breast feeding is advocated,” Mr. Rajagopalan said.

UNICEF would be the facilitator, the IAP would provide the expertise on the field and the Rotary Club would reach out to all the hospitals to bring them under the initiative, he said. UNICEF had allocated Rs. 25 lakh for training doctors of government and private hospitals. They, in turn, would spread the message wider.

“There may be 50 to 60 maternity and child care centres in Coimbatore. We will train 250 doctors of 30 centres in the first phase,” Mr. Rajagopalan said.

“It is not as if there is no sensitisation of mothers at all to the benefits of breast feeding to the child. The project’s aim is to improve things further,” the club’s Chairman for the Project for Reducing Child Mortality K.S. Sridharan Iyer said. “The child has the right to mother’s milk,” he pointed out. Centres or hospitals could contact Dr. Iyer on 99943-77073 and Mr. Rajagopalan on 94426-14445 to join the project.

Under the latest programme, maternity centres should frame a breastfeeding policy that would focus on this aspect alone. They should also have an exclusive wing and a co-ordinator to take the message of the programme to the mothers.

Even as this process would take four to five months, UNICEF and the State Government would get down to the task of forming an accreditation committee.


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

Bollywood at Indian Film Festival of London

Apart from earning itself 14 nominations at the IIFA awards and having already won eight technical ones, 3 Idiots is now being screened at the Indian Film Festival of London 2010, as a part of a retrospective of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s films.

The festival that kicks off on August 25 and ends on August 29, will close the event with a screening of 3 Idiots for charity, the proceeds of which will be donated to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

For a cause
3 Idiots is a special film, it has changed my own daughter’s outlook towards education, as she has taken up full time classical dancing now. To have a charity screening for UNICEF only echoes what the film is trying to say and we are really proud to be associated with such a noble cause,” Chopra says.

The other films lined up to be screened are An Encounter With Faces (1978), Parinda (1989), 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Eklavya: The Royal Guard (2007). While Chopra will also be presented an award for his contribution to cinema, each film will be followed by an audience interaction with him, where members of the British film world will learn more about Bollywood.

About the IFFL
The Indian Film Festival of London claims to be one of the major film festivals, which is dedicated to promoting cinema from the Indian subcontinent.

While several mainstream and art house products from Bollywood are promoted here, the festival soon plans on branching out into getting films from other Indian film industries as well. Steps to rope in movies from film industries in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are also under way

From The Hindustan Times

Infections cause two-thirds of child deaths

According to a new study, preventable infectious diseases cause two-thirds of child deaths.

Published in The Lancet, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) assessed data from 193 countries to produce estimates by country, region and the world.

“With less than five years to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4—to reduce child deaths by two-thirds from 1990 levels—it is vital for governments, public health organizations, and donors to have accurate country-level estimates so they can target their efforts effectively,” said lead author Dr. Robert Black, chair of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“These findings have important implications for national programs,” said UNICEF Chief of Health, Dr. Mickey Chopra. “The persistence of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria, all of which are easily preventable and curable but which nonetheless remain the leading single causes of death worldwide, should spur us to do more to control these diseases.”

The study’s country and regional estimates, however, underscore how global efforts must be targeted to have maximum impact. Malaria, for instance, is responsible for approximately 16 percent of deaths in Africa, but is a comparatively minor disease in the rest of the world. The study did reveal successes in fighting some infectious diseases, such as measles and tetanus—each now only accounts for 1 percent of child deaths worldwide.

Newborn deaths—those within the first month of life—increased as a proportion of all child deaths globally from 37 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2008.

The two greatest single causes of death among neonates are pre-term birth complications and birth-related asphyxia.

“These new data make the compelling case that for countries to get on track for Millennium Development Goal 4, they need to scale up low-cost, effective newborn health interventions,” said co-author Dr. Joy Lawn, director of Global Policy and Evidence for Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program.

From TOI

Afghanistan and Indian Cricketers “Bowl Out Polio” Together in ICC World Twenty20 Tournament

RODNEY BAY, St. Lucia, 1 May 2010 –  Indian and Afghanistan cricketers go head-to-head for the first time ever 1 May in the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 Tournament. But off the field, the teams are putting their bats aside to join forces to “Bowl Out Polio” in India and Afghanistan – two of only four countries remaining in the world battling the transmission of this crippling virus.

Indian Batsman Suresh Raina and Afghan Captain Nowroz Mangal exchanged “Bowl Out Polio” cricket bats autographed by members of each team to show regional solidarity to eliminate the polio virus from India and Afghanistan. “It is our obligation as athletes to make sure every child has the opportunity to run and to play,” said Suresh Raina. “We are happy to come together with the Afghanistan team for this important cause.”

Polio is a virus which cripples and kills young children. While most of the world has been polio-free for years, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nigeria remain the only countries that have never stopped poliovirus transmission.

Progress is being made, particularly in India, where the most dangerous type 1 wild poliovirus (WPV1) has not been reported in the polio-endemic states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in a record five months.  Afghanistan also has been free of WPV1 since 8 January. India has recorded 19 cases in 2010, compared to 36 at this time last year, while Afghanistan has recorded eight cases – two more than at this time last year. Globally, there have been 84 cases of polio this year, compared to 383 at this time in 2009.

As long as India and Afghanistan continue to see polio transmission, all of their neighbors are at high risk of re-infection. In recent weeks, both Nepal and Tajikistan have been re-infected with poliovirus. Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are providing emergency funds to facilitate immediate outbreak response activities in these countries.

“India is very close to becoming polio-free,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Representative in India. “Every parent in India needs to continue vaccinating their children with polio drops each time it is offered until they are five-years-old. Every dose holds the promise of a healthy childhood.”

Cricketers in India have been intensively involved with the polio eradication effort since 2003, when the “Bowl Out Polio” campaign was launched by Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan. Today, players promote OPV vaccination nationally, and especially in the endemic states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Since 2007, more than 40 per cent of type 1 polio cases outside UP and Bihar in India have occurred in migrant communities, underlining how critical it is for children to be vaccinated before they travel. “If we do not end polio in India, the rest of the world will suffer,” said Indian captain MS Dhoni, “Every parent must vaccinate their children regardless of travel schedules, work or anything else in our busy lives. Nothing is more important than our children’s future.”

In Afghanistan, polio has been largely restricted to Helmand and Kandahar where access to children has been compromised by ongoing conflict. Limited female service providers, an inadequate health infrastructure and regular population movements across the border into polio-infected Pakistan are other difficulties faced.

Yet despite these challenges and dangers, every year thousands of dedicated vaccinators go door-to-door for six nationwide polio vaccination campaigns organized by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health with support from UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International and other partners. Sub-national campaigns are also held in areas with persistent transmission. In 2009, approximately 7.5 million children were reached with oral polio vaccine (OPV).

Education and OPV are considered to be inextricably linked in Afghanistan, and among the most critical rights for children’s development. “My future as a cricket player was secured a long time ago, when I was a child,” says Raees Ahmadzai, member of the Afghan Cricket Team and founder of Afghan Youth Cricket Support Organization (AYCSO).  “Vaccination is essential to protect our children from the crippling disease of polio. Education is the social vaccine to boost our society. Both are essential for the future of both girls and boys.”

Today over 6.8 million children are enrolled in primary education, including 1.8 million girls. Simultaneously, demand for health services has also increased. “Educated girls are educated mothers, who will make the right decisions for their children. Together we can ‘bowl out polio and kick in education,” said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, the Director of the Polio Eradication Initiative at WHO, paid tribute to the Afghanistan and India cricket teams for raising awareness of this issue at such a critical time. “Right now we have the best chance we’ve ever had to end polio forever,” Dr Aylward said. The greatest threat to finishing the job remains a $1.4 billion funding gap to eradicate polio globally by end-2012. “These cricket stars are challenging the global community to stand up,” Dr Aylward said, “The world must not squander this unique opportunity to bowl out polio once and for all.”

Notes to editors:
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is led by national governments, with continued support from the spearheading partners–WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF–as well as significant contributions by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UN Foundation.

Since 1988 (the year the GPEI was launched), the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99%. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. In 2009, 1606 children were paralyzed in 23 countries. Only four countries remain endemic: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org/

For more information, and interviews, please contact:
Christian Moen, Media Specialist, UNICEF New York, Tel : +212.326.7516 Email : cmoen@unicef.org

Rod Curtis, Communications Officer, WHO Geneva, Tel : +41 22 79 12082  Email : curtisr@who.int

In St. Lucia :

Sherine Guirguis, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India, Tel: +91-97-1719-7829, E-mail: sguirguis@unicef.org

Cornelia Walthers, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Afghanistan, Tel: +93 (0) 798 50 71 12 E-mail: cwalthers@unicef.org


UNICEF launches TV serial

The serial is dubbed from Hindi version ‘Kyonki Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’

It will be telecast from May 3 on DD Saptagiri at 8 p.m. on weekdays

HYDERABAD: The UNICEF’s ‘Television for Social Change’ initiative took a step ahead on Saturday with the launch of their Telugu TV serial, ‘Idey Mana Jeevita Lakshyam’.

Created by the UNICEF and produced by Miditech, the serial is set in an Indian village where it traces the lives of six protagonists, including an Anganwadi worker, an oppressed woman sarpanch and a dedicated teacher. It has been dubbed from the Hindi version, ‘Kyonki Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’, which has aired in six States.

Strong message

Although styled as a soap opera, the script has a strong social message focusing on health-related issues such as safe motherhood, breastfeeding, nutrition, immunisation and malaria among others. It is based on the book, ‘Facts of Life’ published by the UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO.

Beginning May 3, it will be telecast in the State on Doordarshan Saptagiri at 8 p.m. on weekdays.

“This serial is dedicated to all the grass root functionaries whose hands we want to strengthen,” Michel Saint-Lot, Chief of Hyderabad Field Office, UNICEF told media persons. “There are so many people working in the field but there is still a huge gap in the delivery mechanism.”

He said the serial is an attempt to bridge this gap so that more people realise that they have a right to government services.

“Decades have passed, but we have made little progress in crucial sectors like healthcare,” Chaya Ratan, Principal Secretary, Women and Child Development Department said. “I fully support this initiative by the UNICEF because we need the power of media to reach out to people who have been excluded.”