The UNICEF said on Thursday that it had entered into partnership with 35 local radio stations in South Sudan as part of efforts to combat rampant child marriage in the country.
Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan said this in a statement issued in Juba.
Ayoya said that the radio stations would produce dramas in English and Arabic, including local languages and broadcast messages to raise community awareness on negative effects of child marriages on girls and societies.
“Every girl married before reaching adult age, is one too much.
“Child marriage is a serious child right violation, condemned by international and national South Sudanese legislation,” Ayoya said.
He, however, said the practice of child marriage is still deeply embedded in the habits of the communities in South Sudan.
“The radio dramas will help stimulate a debate within the communities and can hopefully contribute to ending the practice of child marriage in the country,” said Ayoya.
UNICEF estimates that more than half of all South Sudanese girls were married or in a culturally recognised union before they were 18 years old.
It says one out of three girls had been made pregnant before they were 15 years old.
Ayoya said that child marriage represents multiple violations of child rights as it exposes girls to gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and limit girls’ opportunities for reaching their full potential.
According to Ayoya, preliminary results of a survey conducted by UNICEF on knowledge, attitudes and practices around child marriage in South Sudan indicate that 40 per cent of the respondents agree that even if a girl does not want to marry, she should honour the decisions of her family.
The agency said the dramas would focus attention on the violence, abuse and psychosocial distress girls are exposed to.
Also the drama will stir a dialogue on gender inequalities and patriarchal values in South Sudan which perpetuates child marriages and limit girls’ opportunities for reaching their full potential.
Ayoya said the results significantly contribute to gender inequality, noting that UNICEF will make the findings public later this year.
“I call on community influencers at national and state level to join the efforts led by the authorities of South Sudan and to speak up and act against child marriage.
“The effort will promote positive behavioural change for the wellbeing of the children of South Sudan and for the future of the entire country,” said Ayoya.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Breastfeeding :UNICEF, WHO rally support for a healthier planet,officials say
The Nutritional Officer of UNICEF in Ebonyi, Mr Cyprain Ogbonna, gave the encouragement to people on Saturday in Abakaliki during an event to mark the starting of the 2020 celebration of World Breastfeeding week.
The theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”.
The event is marked every year between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and infants.
Ogbonna said that adequate breastfeeding had, over the years , prevented several childhood diseases and brought lifelong positive benefits associated with child spacing.
He said that other benefits include: risk reduction for some breast and ovarian cancers as well as hypertension.
He described breast milk as a nature-given-first food that needed to be preserved for its undebatable benefits to a mother and her baby.
He added that the milk was a critical part of a sustainable food system.
He said that it would be best to start breastfeeding within one hour of birth and exclusively done for the first six months of life, after which mothers should introduce appropriate complementary foods to her baby for two years and beyond.
He stated that misuse of breast milk substitutes should be condemned.
Ogbonna said: “Mothers are recommended to breastfeed their child or children within 30 minutes of birth.
“While mothers doing exclusive breastfeeds go for the first six months of life.
“Also mother or caregiver timely introduces complementary feeding based on local food products at six months while continuing breastfeeding up to two years and beyond,” he said.
Also, the Nutrition Manager of UNICEF in Enugu, Hanifa Namusoke, said that she had championed the cause in Ebonyi to increase the valve and improve the well being of mother and child.
“Breast milk is complete for a healthier planet and that is why WHO and UNICEF recommend optimal infant and young child feeding practices with emphasis on early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth,” Namusoke said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Dada (NAN)
Breastfeeding Week: Group tasks mothers on exclusive breastfeeding
A group, Safe Mamahood, on Friday urged nursing mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months as the best source of nutrition for the infant.
The Coordinator of the Initiative, Ms Vivian Agomuo, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos ahead of the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week, which starts from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, 2020.
According to Agomuo, adequate nutrition is essential during infancy and early childhood, and indeed the first 1000 days of the child for the child’s growth, health and cognitive development.
She disclosed that the theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 was: “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.
According to Agomuo, in line with the 2020 theme, the WHO and UNICEF urges governments to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.
“Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers and it forms part of a sustainable food system.
“But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding,” she quoted the international bodies as saying.
The Safe Mamahood boss said that breastfeeding was beneficial to both the mother and the child, economically, socially and health wise.
“WHO recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives, after which complementary foods can be introduced for up to two years of age and beyond.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is when a child is given only breast milk as food, on demand.
“ There will be no giving of water, pap, juices or any other thing and the breast milk must be given when the child wants it,’’ she said.
On some benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk, she said that the breastfeeding period was the most critical period of each child’s life in terms of his/her growth, development and bonding with the mother.
“Breast milk is a unique source of food for babies that contains all necessary nutrients required for the infant’s health, growth and development.
“The first form of milk that comes out from the breast after childbirth is called Colostrum and it has many benefits, especially immunity-boosting properties.
“Breastmilk contains numerous antioxidants that protect babies from harm caused by pathogens.
“Exclusive breast feeding up to the first six months of an infant’s life reduces the risk of developing gastrointestinal infections, asthma and increases prevention on development of childhood obesity
“Breastmilk is an important source of antioxidants including vitamin C and E which prevents or reduces oxidative damages to various body tissues.
“Many anti-inflammatory agents which protect the baby from inflammatory harm are also contained in the breast milk,’’ she said.
The Safe Mamahood Coordinator said that breastfeeding provided opportunity for the baby to feel the warmth and love of the mother.
According to Agomuo, breastfeeding is cheaper for families, especially in this harsh economic times, because families do not have to be spending money buying infant formulas which are expensive now.
However, she advised nursing mothers to eat good diet with enough fruits, vegetables and water so as to be healthy enough to feed the babies.
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
1.3 mln South Sudanese children under 5 at risk of acute malnutrition: UNICEF
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said that nearly 1.3 million children aged below five years were at risk of acute malnutrition in South Sudan.
According to UNICEF, the high number of malnourished children can be reduced through exclusive breastfeeding for six months, alongside introduction of energy and nutrient-dense complementary feeding programs.
“As the data show, more needs to be done, especially to ensure that exclusive breastfeeding is practiced,” Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF representative in South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba.
“UNICEF is urging everyone in South Sudan to assist mothers in ensuring that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is continued until the globally recommended age of six months,” he added.
Ayoya said that UNICEF and partners have already reached over one million pregnant and lactating mothers in South Sudan with nutrition interventions.
“It is the responsibility of us all to support new mothers with simplest, smartest and most cost-effective ways to exclusively breastfeed their new-borns so that they survive and thrive,” said Ayoya.
While over 90 percent of babies in South Sudan benefit from breastfeeding, nearly one-third of them under six months old are not exclusively breastfed, the globally recommended period for exclusive breastfeeding, according to a UNICEF statement issued ahead of the World Breastfeeding Week which runs from August 1 to 7.
Lead poisoning affects nearly 800 mln children globally: UN study
Lead poisoning is affecting children on a massive and previously unknown scale, up to 800 million globally, said a study released on Thursday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Pure Earth.
“With few early symptoms, lead silently wreaks havoc on children’s health and development, with possibly fatal consequences,” said Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF executive director, in a press release. “Knowing how widespread lead pollution is and understanding the destruction it causes to individual lives and communities must inspire urgent action to protect children once and for all.”
About one-third of children in the world have blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which requires action. Nearly half of these children live in South Asia, according to the study.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin that causes irreparable harm to children’s brains and is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of 5. It damages their brains before they have had the opportunity to fully develop, causing them life-long neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.
Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to mental health and behavioral problems, and to an increase in crime and violence, the study showed. Older children suffer severe consequences, including increased risk of kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases in later life.
Blood lead levels for children in low- and middle-income countries have remained elevated and, in many cases, dangerously high even a decade after the global phase-out of leaded gasoline. Blood lead levels have declined dramatically in most high-income countries.
Childhood lead exposure is estimated to cost lower- and middle-income countries almost 1 trillion United States dollars due to lost economic potential of these children over their lifetime, according to the study.
Increased informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries, due to increased vehicle ownership, is a leading contributor to lead poisoning in children living in low and middle-income countries, it said.
“The good news is that lead can be recycled safely without exposing workers, their children, and surrounding neighborhoods. Lead-contaminated sites can be remediated and restored,” said Pure Earth President Richard Fuller. “People can be educated about the dangers of lead and empowered to protect themselves and their children. The return on the investment is enormous: improved health, increased productivity, higher IQs, less violence, and brighter futures for millions of children across the planet.”