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UNICEF warns againts poor diet for children



The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday raised concerns over an alarmingly high number of children suffering the consequences of poor diets worldwide, including Nigeria.

UNICEF raised the concerns following its new report on children, food and nutrition, while commemorating the World Food Day marked annually on Oct. 16.

According to a statement signed by UNICEF’S Communications Specialist, Mr Geoffrey Njoku, the report provides the most comprehensive assessment yet of 21st century child malnutrition in all its forms.

“It describes a triple burden of malnutrition: Undernutrition, hidden hunger caused by a lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under the age of five, noting that around the world:

“149 million children are stunted, or too short for their age, including 13.1 million children in Nigeria; 50 million children are wasted, or too thin for their height, including 2.9 million children in Nigeria.

“The State of the World’s Children 2019: Children, food and nutrition finds that at least one in under five or 200 million is either undernourished or overweight.

“Almost two in three children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains.

“This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death,” UNICEF said.

According to UNICEF, the report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s life.

The organisation said that breastfeeding could save lives, however, in Nigeria, only 27 per cent of children under six months of age were exclusively breastfed and an increasing number of children were fed infant formula.

“In Nigeria, malnutrition remains a major public health and development concern; 49 per cent of children under five years of age are not growing well; they are either stunted, wasted or overweight.

“This is the second highest proportion after the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West and Central Africa region.

“This is partly because 34 per cent of children between six months and two years of age are fed food that is not rich and diversified enough to ensure optimal growth,” it said.

UNICEF said that addressing malnutrition would require stakeholders investing more resources in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatment when prevention fails.

The organisation also urged stakeholders to support nursing mothers to adequately feed and care for their children.

“Also, empowering families, children and young people to demand nutritious food, including by improving nutrition education and using proven legislation such as sugar taxes to reduce demand for unhealthy foods.

“Mobilising supportive systems including health, water and sanitation, education and social protection to scale up nutrition results for all children,” UNICEF said. (NAN)


Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola


BiH, UNICEF organize online workshops for teachers during COVID-19 lockdown




Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) education authorities, along with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) BiH, have organized 20 online workshops for elementary school and high school teachers during the COVID-19 lockdown, UNICEF BiH said in a press statement on Monday.

According to UNICEF BiH, over 4,000 education professionals from BiH and its neighboring countries participated in workshops from April till June. Teachers used the opportunity to learn new digital skills to improve their online teaching practice, it noted.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, primary and secondary schools in BiH have been closed since mid-March, resulting in around 400,000 children being schooled online in their homes.

Educational institutions in BiH have introduced teaching via online platforms so that school shutdowns did not stop learning, the UNICEF BiH said.

“This pandemic opened windows of opportunity for innovations in the education system and introduction of digital content, during and after the pandemic. The quality of education is dependent on the quality of teaching, and it is crucial to support teachers to develop their professional skills to adapt to the new environment,” said Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF representative in BiH.

According to the Ministry of Education of Canton Sarajevo, the school year in elementary and high-schools ends on June 9.

Since the epidemiological situation improves significantly, it is expected that children will be back in schools on Sept. 2 when the next school year begins.


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AU, UNICEF condemn killing of health workers in Somalia




The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) on Sunday in separate statements condemned the abduction and deliberate killing of seven health workers and a civilian at a local health center in southern Somalia.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director said these heinous attacks interfere with fundamental protections of the right to health and the perpetrators must be held accountable.

“These health workers were heroes, putting their safety on the line every day to provide lifesaving care to children and families. We will hold their dedication and sacrifice in our hearts as we continue our work to reach vulnerable children across the country,” Fore said in a statement issued on Saturday evening.

The eight people were abducted on May 27 from an NGO-run health clinic, about 30 kilometers away from Mogadishu, before their brutal killing.

Francois Madeira, AMISOM head of mission, said the health workers continue to provide much-needed quality healthcare as Somalia continues to face the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am shocked by the senseless killings of civilians. Deliberate attacks against health professionals and facilities are a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law and constitute a war crime in non-international armed conflicts,” said Madeira.

He said the health workers are putting their lives on the line to save others in very difficult circumstances.

No arrest has so far been made and no group has claimed responsibility for the murder.


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UNICEF dispatches medical shipment to Yemen’s Sanaa to confront COVID-19




Yemen’s health authorities controlled by the Houthi militia Sunday confirmed the arrival of a medical shipment dispatched by the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the war-ravaged country.

A UNICEF‘s plane loaded with essential medical supplies to respond to COVID-19 landed at Sanaa Airport on Saturday and our teams will supervise distribution to the hospitals,” one official of the Houthi-controlled Health Ministry in Sanaa told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

According to a brief statement released by the UN, “a UNICEF chartered plane landed at Sanaa airport on Saturday with lifesaving supplies to help curb the spread of the disease in the conflict-hit country.”

It said that the supplies are a range of medical assistance, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items such as aprons, boots, face masks and gloves for frontline health workers.

It added that the PPE items will help at least 1,600 health workers in primary health centres, hospitals and isolation units across Yemen to provide safe primary health care and nutrition services for a period of three months.

“These supplies will allow our courageous partners the health workers, who are working around the clock, to safely and more effectively address the spread of COVID-19,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

The UN agency noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 has created an emergency within an emergency in Yemen where only half of health facilities are functional and with almost every child in Yemen (over 12 million in total) already in need of humanitarian assistance, including nearly half a million suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Yemen’s Health Ministry on Saturday confirmed 27 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total tally of infections to 310 with 77 deaths in the country’s provinces controlled by the government.

The government called on donors and relevant international humanitarian organizations to provide support to help contain the pandemic.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of much of the country’s north and forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.


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Cameroon receives COVID-19 related donation from UNICEF ahead of school reopening




The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) delivered tons of hygiene and preventive materials to Cameroon on Saturday to help the Central African country fight the coronavirus pandemic in schools.

“This donation goes to more than 8,000 schools in six regions. It composes principally of buckets equipped with taps for the storage of water and other sanitary materials. We want to facilitate the back-to-school campaign,” Jacques Boyer, UNICEF Resident Representative in Cameroon told reporters while handing over the donation in the capital Yaounde.

Students in their final year will resume classes on Monday in Cameroon after schools were suspended since March 18 due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

“This donation is very timely indeed. We can only thank UNICEF very much. Schools are resuming on Monday and the key message is that everybody should send their children to school,” Pauline Nalova Lyonga, Cameroon‘s Minister of Secondary Education said.

Cameroon has reported more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases since the detection of the first case on March 6.


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Mozambique receives medical supplies from EU, UNICEF to fight COVID-19




The European Union (EU) and the United Nations International Children‘s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) delivered 11 tons of medical supplies to Mozambique on Friday to help the southeast African country fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The supplies, including some 145,000 masks, 30,000 overalls, 192 non-contact thermometers and 600 goggles, were received by Mozambique’s Health Minister Armindo Tiago in Maputo.

The EU is confident that these supplies will help the doctors, paramedics and nurses to stay safe whilst they continue providing an effective and operational response,” said Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar, the EU‘s ambassador to Mozambique, at the delivery ceremony.

The supplies came at a moment when the country’s health authorities recognize that there are challenges in providing sufficient personal protective equipment especially for their medical workers.

“The safety of Mozambican health professionals during the response to COVID-19 is of extreme importance. Those brave men and women, tirelessly committing themselves with personal sacrifice to the fight against the pandemic amid huge risk, deserve the best possible protection,” said Tiago.

As of Friday, Mozambique has a total of 234 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including two deaths and 84 recoveries.


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UNICEF donates ventilators to healthcare institutions in North Macedonia




United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) office in North Macedonia donated the first seven out of 10 ventilators to health care institutions in the country to assist in the fight against COVID-19, UNICEF said in a press release on Friday.

Present at the donation ceremony, Health Minister Venko Filipce praised the support of UNICEF, noting that the donation is truly significant for the country’s health care system.

Filipce said that the ventilators will be distributed to intensive care units, where patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are treated.

In her remarks, UNICEF representative Patrizia Di Giovanni declared that now more than ever they see the importance of strengthening health systems.

“Only by working together can we ensure that every child is healthy, safe and learning, no matter what challenges countries face,” she said.

Valued at over 215,000 U.S. dollars, the ventilators are both for invasive and non-invasive therapy and can be used to treat both children and adults, UNICEF stated.

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, UNICEF is supporting North Macedonia‘s government in its efforts to reduce the impact on children and families.

On Friday, the health ministry reported 52 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases in North Macedonia to 2,129, with 1,516 recoveries and 126 fatalities.


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COVID-19 to put 86 mln more children into household poverty by yearend: UNICEF




The economic fallout of COVID-19 could push up to 86 million more children into household poverty by the end of 2020, an increase of 15 percent, according to a new analysis released on Thursday by the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children.

Without urgent action to protect families from the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, the total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million by yearend, said UNICEF in a press release.

Nearly two-thirds of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Countries across Europe and Central Asia could see the most significant increase, up to 44 percent across the region. Latin America and the Caribbean could see a 22-percent increase, said UNICEF.

“The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unprecedented socio-economic crisis that is draining resources for families all over the world,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “The scale and depth of financial hardship among families threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services. Without concerted action, families barely getting by could be pushed into poverty, and the poorest families could face levels of deprivation that have not been seen for decades.”

The impact of the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic and related containment policies is two-fold. Immediate loss of income means families are less able to afford the basics, less likely to access health care or education, and more at risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation and abuse. For the poorest families, lack of access to social care services or compensatory measures further limits their ability to abide by containment and physical distancing measures, and thus further increases their exposure to infection, said UNICEF.

For children living in countries already affected by conflict and violence, the impact of COVID-19 will further increase the risk of instability and of households falling into poverty, it warned.

To address and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on children in poor households, Save the Children and UNICEF call for rapid and large-scale expansion of social protection systems and programs, including cash transfers, school feeding and child benefits.

Governments must also invest in other forms of social protection, fiscal policies, employment and labor market interventions to support families. This includes expanding universal access to quality health care and other services, and investing in family-friendly policies, such as paid leave and childcare, said the two organizations.


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UNICEF appoints Cobhams Asuquo national ambassador – Official



The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appointed the internationally acclaimed and award-winning Nigerian musician, producer and songwriter, Cobhams Asuquo as its National Ambassador.

UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Mr Peter Hawkins announced the appointment in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Wednesday.

Hawkins said that the appointment made the celebrated artist UNICEF Nigeria’s first National Ambassador in the last 15 years.

Asuquo, a lawyer by training, is a singer and musician who shot to fame when he produced the debut album of Nigerian soul sensation Asa.

This include Asa’s hit singles, “Fire on the Mountain” and “Jailer”.

Hawkins explained that as UNICEF National Ambassador, Asuquo would help raise awareness on concerns around children’s rights and solutions, including issues around birth registration, immunisation, education, and protection from violence.

“I am delighted to welcome Asuquo to the UNICEF family, particularly on Nigerian Children’s Day, dedicated to every Nigerian child, to give them a better place to survive, thrive and develop.

May 27 was set aside to celebrates the importance of children in Nigeria, providing the opportunity to policymakers and families to focus on the holistic development of young Nigerians,” Hawkins explained.

He said that Asuquo had been supporting UNICEF to raise awareness on children’s and youth issues.

“He had supported UNICEF Nigeria’s work since 2019, including producing the hits “I am a Nigeria Child (For Every Child)” calling for every Nigerian child’s rights to be respected and protected.

“He also produced the song, “We go Win (Corona)”, to raise awareness on how Nigerians can protect themselves from COVID-19.

“Asuquo had also produced the song “Tell Everybody”, back in 2015 to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, as part of the UN Global Goals campaign,” Hawkins said.

The UNICEF representative expressed optimism that the national ambassador would continue to use his singing, passion, and dedication to defend the rights of vulnerable children and young people in Nigeria.

Hawkins quoted Asuquo as saying, “It’s a huge honour to become a UNICEF Nigeria Ambassador.

“I am thrilled to join the list of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors around the world, supporting the protection and promotion of children’s rights.

“I am passionate about children’s rights, and I am passionate about Nigeria – and securing its future and the only way we can truly do that, is through ensuring every child fulfilled their potential.

“I look forward to making my contribution to the improvement of the lives of Nigerian children and young people.”

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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COVID-19: UNICEF, NOA urge parents to immunise children against killer diseases



The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) , have urged mothers and healthcare givers to continue immunising children against child-killer diseases amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The agencies gave the advice at a one-day sensitisation programme for journalists tagged “Media Orientation Meeting for Measles Campaign” held on Wednesday in Owerri.

The Director of NOA in Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, said it had become necessary to sensitise members of the public, especially nursing mothers on the need to access primary healthcare centers to immunise their children.

He said that most mothers and care givers had, in the confusion created by the emmergence of Coronavirus, forgotten and abandoned the immunisatiuon of their children, which he said, had grave consequences.

Ekeocha said the programme was an enlightenment campaign on vaccination against measles and other child-killer diseases and enjoined media houses to help propagate the message.

COVID-19 is a war which should be fought with all the arsenal the government has. Most mothers at the present stituation may not remember to go and immunise their children.

“There is need to sensitise mothers and care givers that in spite of the pandemic, they should not forget to immunise their children and wards and disregard rumours associated with the COVID-19 pandemic vaccine.

“The press, through their various medium, are enjoined to reach out to the people. Everyone in Imo is expected to know the importance of immunisation,” Ekeocha said.

Also, Dr Chibuzo Okoroama, an Immunisation Officer with Imo State Primary Health Care Developmnt Agency (ISPHCDA) in an “Overview of Measles Campaign” described measles as a highly infectious viral disease caused by measles virus that causes death of children globally.

She noted that there was no specific antiviral treatment for measles but that it could be prevented by immunisation with measles vaccine.

Okoroama listed some necessary children vaccines, their mode of adminstration and dosage.

They include Measles Vaccine for measles, BCG for tuberculosis, for poliomyelitis, Hepatitis B Vaccine, Yellow Fever and Rotavirus vaccines.

According to her, measles is spread through contact with nose and throat secretions in airborne droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

She, therefore, urged parents to ensure their children were immunised at the right time with correct doses.

Earlier, the UNICEF Programme Officer in Imo, Mr Chigozie Ojiaku noted that vaccination or immunisation is the right of every child which should not be denied them.

Ojiaku urged mothers to ensure complete immunisation processes for their children.

He harped on the need to improve on the health indices of the state through immunisation, hence the need for people of the state to get the right messages on immunisation.

Ojiaku said the media, as news gate keepers, waged a lot of influence on what the people should know and believe, appealing to them to promote news on immunisation.

Mrs Violet Igwe, Social Moblisation and Technical Officer and Director ICT in the state Ministry of Information, said information moulded opinion of people, as such its powers could not be overemphasised.

She called on the media to disseminate the information on measles vaccination and discourage propaganda on immunisation against the measles.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the journalists were drawn from the print, electronic and online media.

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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