UNICEF Steps up Lifesaving Interventions in North-Eastern Nigeria


UNICEF is scaling up its support to conflict-affected communities in north-eastern Nigeria to improve health, nutrition, and water and sanitation services.

UNICEF has sent more than 1,000 basic health care kits to Borno and Yobe states, enough to cover the basic health needs of more than 400,000 people during a campaign this month. The kits were funded by the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation.

At the same time, UNICEF is working to increase from 43 to 65 the number of primary health care centers it supports in the two states. The project integrates health services, nutrition and water and hygiene, with a focus on the most vulnerable mothers and children.

Attacks on health facilities, water points and farms have severely affected local communities, and particularly children, in Borno and Yobe.

UNICEF will procure essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment for the health centres, and help ensure the facilities operate six days a week to provide routine immunization, maternal health services and outpatient curative services.

The project also aims to treat 11,300 severely malnourished children in the two conflict-affected states, in addition to existing efforts to treat 200,000 children in a wider area of northern Nigeria this year.

UNICEF will further facilitate procurement for the construction of water and sanitation facilities around health care centres and in the communities.

“The humanitarian needs are huge and there are only few humanitarian actors on the ground,” said Jean Gough, who heads the UNICEF Nigeria office. “Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the violence, often after losing their homes and their livelihoods. Access to food, health services and water is a major issue,” she added.

The assistance was made possible with funding from the government of Japan, the EU and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

But considering the huge needs in the region, existing funding will be used up quickly and considerable fresh funding will be needed.

Last week, UNICEF also provided, three 2,000-litre tanks, blankets, mattresses, soap, and other basic items for the community of Chibok, Borno state, where 284 schoolgirls were abducted in April and May

Source: all africa

Call for Shake-Up in Africa Nutrition Research

Rwanda has achieved remarkable success in reducing child hunger, and nutrition experts believe there may be lessons here for other countries in Africa.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a 2013 report on progress in tackling malnutrition, noted that in 2005 more than half of Rwanda’s children under five years of age – about 800,000 – were stunted. “Just five years later, stunting prevalence had decreased from an estimated 52 percent to 44 percent,” the report said.

The Rwandan approach has been to try and find home-grown solutions.

It scaled up community-based nutrition programmes in all 30 of the country’s districts, and has also been setting up an almost universal community-based health insurance scheme. “This was all done with the help of food grown locally, and not packaged interventions provided by donors,” said Fidele Ngabo, director of Maternal Child Health. “There are thousands of local solutions for hunger…

“Each village comes up with community-based approaches to tackle malnutrition and food insecurity that don’t cost money – we are at the centre to provide support and play a monitoring role,” she said.

Examples include the setting up a communal grain reserve to which each household contributes at least 20 percent of their harvest during a good season, with the stored grain being used during the lean season; or the expansion of kitchen gardens with shared information on the vegetables to be grown.

Suggestions and proposed solutions are debated in working groups comprising aid agencies, researchers, academics and government officials.

Source: All Africa

Mother-to-child HIV infections decreasing: UN

The U.N. Children’s Fund says it is alarmed about increasing HIV and AIDS rates among adolescents over the last seven years and is advocating an aggressive program that includes condom distribution and antiretroviral treatment.

In a more positive development, UNICEF found that mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus has been dramatically reduced and estimated that some 850,000 cases were prevented in low- and middle-income countries.

Its 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS released Friday said AIDS-related deaths among those aged 10 to 19 increased between 2005 and 2012 from 71,000 to 110,000. About 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV in 2012.

Nearly 90 percent of children newly infected with HIV live in just 22 countries. All except one are in sub-Saharan Africa.

“If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “It’s a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programs – urgently.”

High-impact interventions include condoms, antiretroviral treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, communications for behavior change and targeted approaches for at-risk and marginalized populations.

UNICEF found dramatic improvement in prevention of new HIV infections among infants. Some 260,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2012, compared to 540,000 in 2005.

New, simplified life-long antiretroviral treatment known as Option B+ provides the opportunity to effectively treat women with HIV and to prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and through breastfeeding.

The treatment involves a daily one-pill regimen.

Some of the most remarkable successes were in sub-Saharan Africa. New infections among infants declined between 2009 and 2012 by 76 percent in Ghana, 58 percent in Namibia, 55 percent in Zimbabwe, 52 percent in Malawi and Botswana and 50 percent in Zambia and Ethiopia.

UNICEF said that globally, the number of AIDS-related deaths overall fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2012

Source: Deccan Chronicle