UNICEF Urges Countries To Start Paternity Leave

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged all countries to start providing fathers with legally paid paternity leave to enable them have adequate time to spend with their newborn babies.

There are also 92 countries which lack national policies ensuring that new fathers get adequate paid time off, to spend with their newborn babies, UNICEF said.

“Positive and meaningful interaction with mothers and fathers from the very beginning, helps to shape children’s brain growth and development for life, making them healthier and happier, and increasing their ability to learn.

“It’s all of our responsibility to enable them to fill this role,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Almost two-thirds of the world’s children under the age of one live in countries where fathers are not legally entitled to any paid paternity leave, according to a new analysis by UNICEF.

Evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their infants, they are more likely to play an active role in their child’s development, the UN children’s agency said.

Research also suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and long-term satisfaction in life, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF urged governments to implement national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development, including paid paternity and maternity leave, free pre-primary education, and paid breastfeeding breaks.

Earlier 2018, UNICEF modernised its approach to parental leave provisions, with up to 16 weeks of paid leave for paternity across all of its offices worldwide – the first UN agency to extend the benefit, beyond the standard four weeks.

Fore said: “We cannot be ‘For Every Child,’ if we are not also ‘For Every Parent’.

“We have to ask more of governments and more of employers if we’re going to give fathers and mothers the time and resources they need to nurture their children, particularly during the earliest years of a child’s life”.

Around the world, momentum for family-friendly policies is growing, however, with nearly 90 million children living in countries without paid paternity leave, much work remains to be done, UNICEF said.

The new analysis forms part of UNICEF’s ‘Super Dads’ campaign, now in its second year, which aims to break down barriers and allow fathers to play an active role in their children’s’ development.

The campaign is also recognising Father’s Day at this time, which is celebrated across more than 80 countries during June, and focuses on the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains.

Only 1 In 4 Nigerian Children Are Vaccinated – UNICEF

The United Nations International Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has revealed that only 1 in 4 children in Nigeria receive all recommended vaccines.

This was made known in a statement sent to DAILY POST on Monday by UNICEF Nigeria’s Communication Officer, Eva Hinds.

The statement said though Nigeria has made great strides in reducing deaths of under 5-year-old children from 158 to 120 per 1000 births between 2011 and 2016, the coverage of the main vaccines offered through routine immunization has declined.

It added: “The recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17 shows that only 1 in 4 children in the country receive all the recommended vaccines.

“Immunization coverage for pentavalent vaccine between the 36 states varies dramatically from 80% in Lagos to 3% in Sokoto and is still below the recommended global goal of 90% in all of them.

“Children who have never been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus, which may be fatal or lead to long-term debilitating effects on survivors. Poverty, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as insufficient nutrition and healthcare increase the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and measles; diseases that are easily preventable with vaccines.

“Millions of lives can be saved by extending basic health services, like routine immunization, to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. In Nigeria, the Government has developed an ambitious 10-year national Immunisation and Primary Health Care Systems Strengthening Plan that aims to reverse the current negative trends.”

The agency’s Country Representative, Mohamed Malick Fall, was also quoted as saying “All girls and boys, no matter where they live or what their situations are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases.

“Vaccination acts as a shield, keeping families and communities safe. By vaccinating children, we are protecting the most vulnerable members of the communities.

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective health interventions. UNICEF and its partners continues to stand firm with the Government to ensure that the lives of children are protected.”

Katsina, Jigawa, Two Other State To get N70m For Toilet Construction

The United Nations Children’s Fund has said it has released N70 million to 3,000 households in four states in Nigeria as a loan to construct modernized toilets, under its Sanitation Marketing Programme.

The UNICEF International Consultant on Sanitation Marketing, Mr. Amir Syed, said this in a news conference on Wednesday in Katsina.

According to Syed, the loan is to assist Nigeria to attain Open Defecation Free status by 2025.

The international consultant  listed Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi and Benue states as the states that benefited from the loans.

He said that the loan was disbursed through some Micro Finance Institutions in the participating states.

Syed further said the programme had been extended to Zamfara State.

Seyd said 18 local government areas in Nigeria were currently participating in the programme.

The international consultant explained that Toilets Business Owners, trained on toilet technologies were engaged to construct the improved toilets for the affected households.

In his contribution, the Executive Director, Katsina State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Alhaji Aminu Dayyabu, said the programme was being implemented in five local governments in the state.

According to him, the local governments are Bakori, Mai’adua, Sandamu, Safana, and Dutsin-ma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Million Girls Become Child Brides Yearly- UNICEF

A new date from UNICEF has revealed that about 12 million girls under the age of 18 are getting married every year globally.

The data which was released on Tuesday revealed that the newly collated figures signal a 15 per cent drop in the last decade, from one in four to approximately one in five girls.

UNICEF warned that if child marriage continues at the current rate, more than 150 million girls across the world will marry before their 18th birthdays by 2030.

“When a girl is forced to marry as a child, she faces immediate and lifelong consequences.

“Her odds of finishing school decrease while her odds of being abused by her husband and suffering complications during pregnancy increase,” Anju Malhotra, UNICEF’s principal gender adviser, said in a statement.

In South Asia, there has been a decrease in the prevalence of child brides from 50 per cent ten years ago to 30 per cent today.

In sub-Saharan Africa there has also been a decline, with 43 per cent of women married in childhood ten years ago compared to 38 per cent today.

UNICEF said there has also been a shift in where the highest number of child brides are located, with close to one-third of all the most recently married child brides globally now in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to one in five a decade ago.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 650 million women alive today were married as children.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals sets out plans to end child marriage by 2030.

 

Over 20,000 Babies Born On New Year’s Day

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that approximately 20,210 babies were born in Nigerian on the New Year’s Day. The births, represented third largest population of newborns in the world on Jan. 1, 2018.

UNICEF also said nearly 386,000 babies would be born worldwide on New Year’s Day, representing some 90 per cent in less developed regions.
The agency reported that Kiribati’s Christmas Island in the Pacific would most likely welcome 2018’s first baby while the U.S., its last.

Globally, over half of these births are estimated to take place in nine countries, according to UNICEF. These are: India, 69,070; China, 44,760; Nigeria, 20,210; Pakistan, 14,910; Indonesia, 13,370; United States, 11,280; Democratic Republic of Congo, 9,400; Ethiopia, 9,020; and Bangladesh, 8,370.

While many babies would survive, some would not make it past their first day, UNICEF regretted.

Stefan Peterson, UNICEF’s Chief of Health, said on Monday that the UN children’s agency was challenging nations around the world to make sure more newborns survive their first days of life. “This New Year, UNICEF’s resolution is to help give every child more than an hour, more than a day, more than a month – more than survival,” Peterson said.

In 2016, an estimated 2,600 children died within the first 24 hours every day of the year, according to the UN agency. UNICEF said that for almost two million newborns, their first week was also their last. In all, 2.6 million children died before the end of their first month, the global children’s agency regretted.

Among those children, more than 80 per cent died from preventable and treatable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia, UNICEF said. Peterson stressed: “We call on governments and partners to join the fight to save millions of children’s lives by providing proven, low-cost solutions”.

Over the past two decades, the world has seen unprecedented progress in child survival, halving the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday to 5.6 million in 2016. But in spite of these advances, there has been slower progress for newborns, UNICEF noted adding, babies dying in the first month account for 46 per cent of all deaths among children under five.

UNICEF Commences Campaigns In 12 Communities

THE United Nations International Children’s Fund commensed a campaign to combat infant mortality, cholera, diarrhoea and other forms of diseases in 12 communities in the Onuimo Imo Local Government Area of Imo State.

To realize desired effectiveness, it will partner with the state chapter of the National Orientation Agency, traditional rulers, community leaders and other volunteers.

During the campaign at Okohia-Umuna, Ezefoke, Ikwuato , Okwelle, Diakuma and Ezelu Okwe communities, UNICEF urged the residents to fight the diseases by stopping open defecation.

It stated that open defecation, according to research, was a major cause of diarrhoea and cholera.

The Director of NOA in the state, Vitus Ekeocha, said it was essential that every household in the communities had toilets for healthy defecation.

Ekeocha noted that indiscriminate defecation in various communities in the state was sabotaging the efforts of UNICEF.

The NOA director said, “UNICEF is determined to stop diseases that affect women and children in developing countries. Here in Imo state, UNICEF has chosen 12 communities in the Onuimo LGA .”

The UNICEF Programme Officer in the state, Chigozie Orjiaku, said the organisation in partnership with individuals would identify households without toilets and ensure that they get one.

New Survey Indicates Drop In Infant Mortality, Increase In Child Malnutrition In Nigeria

The 5th Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS5) conducted in 2016 and 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other key partners has indicated a nationwide drop in Infant Mortality, increase in Child Malnutrition in Nigeria.

The Acting Representative for UNICEF in Nigeria, Pernille Ironside said “The use of this new MICS5 data will improve the lives of Nigerians by informing about important gaps that are impacting children and women so that appropriate actions can be taken”

Pernille said the findings of the survey are used for planning, monitoring and decision making on programmes and policies to address issues related to the well-being of children and women in Nigeria.

The result of the survey which was released in Abuja showed that Nigeria made significant improvements in some areas while others areas remain unchanged or have worsened since 2011 by not keeping pace with population growth when the last survey was conducted.

The results of the survey indicated that the infant mortality rate has dropped to 70 per 1000 live births from 97 in 2011. Equally, deaths among children under age five have dropped to 120 per 1000 live births from 158 in 2011.

“Malnutrition among children under age five has worsened nationwide with the highest concerns in the northern states. Child wasting (children who are too thin for their age) increased from 24.2% to 31.5%, while child stunting (children who are too short for their age) increased from 34.8% to 43.6%.”

The Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale while unveiling the MICS5 reports noted that verifiable data is extremely important to the development outcome in Nigeria.

MICS5 is a recognised and definitive source of information for assessing the situation of children and women in the areas of Health; Nutrition; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH); Education; Protection; and HIV & AIDS amongst others.

Since 1995, UNICEF has supported the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with technical assistance and funding to conduct five rounds of MICS, informing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other major national and global commitments.

The data for MICS5 was collected between September 2016 and January 2017 from 33,901 households in 2,239 enumeration areas across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory.

A total of 34,376 eligible women; 28,085 of mothers/caregivers of children under 5 years; and 15,183 men were interviewed using structured questionnaires aided by Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) devices.  This is the largest MICS survey conducted in Africa to date.

Kastina Govt. Releases 350m For Malnutrition

Katsina State Government has disbursed N350 million as its commitment to UNICEF for the purchase of Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food ( RUTF ) for treatment of malnourished children in the state.

Alhaji Abdullahi Imam, the Special Adviser to the governor on Budget and Planning on Tuesday in Katsina, disclosed while signing the agreement on behalf of the State Government.

Osun Develops 5-Year Costed Multi-Sectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition

State Government of Osun has developed a 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition as part of strategies to address the challenge of malnutrition in the state.

 

Speaking at a 3-day workshop on the state strategic plan on nutrition sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Director of Community Health Services and Education at the Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board, Mr James Oloyede said there is urgent need to address the problem of malnutrition in the state.

 

Oloyede said the nutritional status of children below the age of five in Osun state has not improved in the last five years according to the report of Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) 2016-2017.

 

He said over 23% of under five children in the state are stunted and 8% wasted which means that those children may not fulfil their full potentials in life and they are at a greater risk of diet related non communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension in later years.

 

“The report also showed that more children are likely to die today than they were 5 years ago as Infant mortality rose above the national average of 70/1000 from 40/1000 live births in 2011 to 78/1000 in 2016 and Under 5 mortality rose from 58/1000 to 101/1000 in the same period.”

 

He said the state government was committed to reverse this ugly trend through an integrated multi-sectoral strategic plan of action that will clearly identify priority areas such as nutrition of women of child bearing age, infant and young child feeding.

 

 

Other priority areas include ensuring food security, micro nutrient deficiency control, treatment of severe acute malnutrition, nutrition in education and institutions, poverty reduction and recruitment and deployment of nutritionists to handle nutrition issues in the State. He said the state strategic plan on nutrition clearly outlined activities and assign roles and responsibilities that would ensure its implementation.

 

 

Oloyede expressed delight that efforts at improving the practice of Breastfeeding have yielded positive result in the state as the rate of Exclusive Breastfeeding increased by 35.8% from 40.7% to 55.3% in 2016.

 

 

A Public Health and Nutrition Programme Manager in the Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board, Mr Izuchukwu Michael Offiaeli while taking participants through the objectives and the expected outcomes of the workshop explained that an integrated strategic costed nutrition plan of action was being developed for the state for the period between 2018 and 2023.

 

 

At the workshop attended by top officials of ministries and agencies of Osun State Government, Michael explained that the document would also detail the commitments in financial investments going into nutrition and the roles as well as the responsibilities of all the relevant sectors and stakeholders.

 

 

Michael said “this 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition is an integration of nutrition investments, as well as nutrition considerations into programs in all sectors in the state and to also increase policy coherence and seamless implementation of nutrition activities in the state.”

 

 

A lecturer at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Food Science and Human Ecology, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr Wasiu Akinloye Afolabi said it has become imperative to make case for nutrition in national development agenda. 

 

 

He noted that the consequences of malnutrition are far reaching and that necessary steps must be taken to address it. “Malnutrition impairs growth and health of children, reduces learning and education of children, increases health care cost of families and nation due to treatment of illness and reduces national productivity”, he said.

 

According to him, “Investment in nutrition will boost gross national product by 11%, prevent child deaths by more than one third per year, improve school attainment by at least one year, increase wages by 5-50%, reduce poverty as well-nourished children are 33% more likely to escape poverty and also empower women to be 10% more likely to run their own business and break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.”

 

He added that nutrition was being recognized as both an input and output into development and cost benefit analysis has shown that every $1 spent on nutrition can yield $16 in return for a country and maintained that government and all stakeholders must act on time to tackle malnutrition.

 

The President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Dr Bartholomew Brai, explained that the National Food and Nutrition Policy is a document that provides the framework for addressing the problems of food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria and hailed Osun State government for its efforts in curtailing malnutrition.

 

 

Brai said the “it is good development that Osun is developing this 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition in line with the National Food and Nutrition Policy.”

 

 

“The policy recognizes nutrition as a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary issue relevant to national development. It was first developed in 2001 and reviewed in 2013 to include emerging issues such as nutrition in the first 1000days of every child, nutrition in emergencies and increase in prevalence of diet-related non-communicable diseases amongst others.”

 

 

“The policy contains six thematic areas including food and nutrition security, enhancing provision of quality health services, enhancing care-giving capacity, raising awareness and understanding of the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels and the six strategies are aimed at achieving the policy objectives”, Brai added.

UNICEF Urges Bayelsa, Delta To Fast Track Process Of Establishing RUWASSA By Law In Their States

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged the Government of Bayelsa and Delta states to fast track the process of establishing the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) by law in their respective states to aid the attainment of the rural component of Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) championed by UNICEF and the European Union (EU).

UNICEF Specialist on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Ms Martha Hokonya who said this at a media dialogue in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state also urged the government of the two states to upgrade the WASH units in the local government Areas in the states into departments for effectiveness and efficiency.

Hokonya explained that the overall objectives of the NDSP by EU and UNICEF was to mitigate the conflict in the Niger Delta by addressing the main causes of the unrest and violence,unemployment and poor delivery of basic services through the WASH intervention programmes.

She noted the objectives of NDSP were designed to contribute to strengthening social bonding and peace building among communities in the project states through local capacity building and provision of access to improved sources of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in ten self-selected Local Government Areas in the Project states.

According to her, “there are five key objectives under the project which include upgrading the Local Government Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Units to Departments and strengthen the capacity of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Institutions in the five Niger Delta states to drive and implement sustainable WASH projects.”

“The objective is to increase access to safe and sustainable water supply services in the rural communities of the selected Local Government Areas, increase access to improved sanitation and proper hygiene practice in rural communities and schools, institutionalize dialogue among stakeholders, strengthening social bonding and contributing to resolution of conflict situations and to establish a state and national monitoring and evaluation system,” Hokonya explained.

Speaking on the keys achievements of Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) which is jointly funded by EU, UNICEF and three tiers of Government, she explained that a total of 206,954 people have been able to gained access to safe water and that 224 Water Safety Plans were developed in 224communities.

Also, on the keys achievement in the area of sanitation, Hokonya said a total of 508 communities have been triggered and mobilised to engage in Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), 143 communities stopped open defecation and that 146,364 people have gained access to improved latrines.

She added that 35 Primary Schools were provided with safe water and sanitation facilities while 28 schools in Delta got Hand Pump Boreholes. She also said that 14 schools got 2 VIP latrines each and that 10,520 pupils gained access to safe and gender sensitive WASH facilities. The UNICEF WASH specialist also disclosed that 12 Primary Health Care facilities were provided with 12 solar motorized borehole water facilities.

Hokonya commended the Federal, state and local government in the Niger Delta for their willing to ensure the wellbeing of the people in the region. She charged the three tears of government to put necessary mechanisms in place for the prompt payment of their counterpart funds at commencement of projects to enable early procurement of supplies and avoid delay during construction.

Boko Haram: 75% Of Sanitation Infrastructure Destroyed In Northeast – UNICEF

Mr Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, stated at the beginning of the World Water Week, said 3.6 million people lacked water in northeast that Boko Haram terrorists have destroyed 75 per cent of the water infrastructure in Northeast Nigeria.

Wijesekera said: “in conflict-affected areas in northeast Nigeria, 75 per cent of water and sanitation infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, leaving 3.6 million people without even basic water services.

“In far too many cases, water and sanitation systems have been attacked, damaged or left in disrepair to the point of collapse.

“When children have no safe water to drink, and when health systems are left in ruins, malnutrition and potentially fatal diseases like cholera will inevitably follow.

“In famine-threatened north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, nearly 30 million people, including 14.6 million children, are in urgent need of safe water.

“More than five million children are estimated to be malnourished this year, with 1.4 million severely so.”

He said in countries beset by violence, displacement, conflict and instability, children’s most basic means of survival, water must be a priority.

Wijesekera warned that children living in fragile situations were four times more likely to lack access to drinking water.

“Children’s access to safe water and sanitation, especially in conflicts and emergencies, is a right, not a privilege” Wijesekera said.

According to the UNICEF official, more than 180 million people in crisis-torn countries have no access to drinking water.