Monday July 23, 2018
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Seventy Million Children likely to die by 2030 if Nations lack Developmental Goals, warns UNICEF

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Poor Kids. Image source: gogetfunding.com
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  • UNICEF urges governments, donors and NGOs to focus on the most disadvantaged children and close the gaps 
  • The migration and refugee crisis affecting Europe is one example of how inequalities are fueling global instability
  • UNICEF is urging countries to develop national plans so they can meet the 2030 sustainable development agenda

UNICEF, UN children’s agency, had warned that about 70 million of people could die between 2016 to 2030 if there parents and government do not put in efforts to achieve their developmental goals.

In its annual State of the World’s Children report issued Tuesday, June 28, UNICEF urges governments, donors and NGOs to focus on the most disadvantaged children and close the gaps, giving all young people a better chance at a bright future.

UNICEF (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
UNICEF (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“These vast inequities and dangers do more than violate the rights and imperil the futures of individual children,” says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in the report. “They perpetuate inter-generational cycles of disadvantage and inequality that undermine the stability of societies and even the security of nations everywhere,” he added.

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The migration and refugee crisis affecting Europe is one example of how inequalities are fueling global instability, said Justin Forsyth, UNICEF deputy executive director.

“A combination of poor governance, conflict, but also inequality and inequity is fueling that instability, which is fueling that mass movement of people,” he said of the migrants on the move from North Africa.

Forsyth says the situation can be improved with small investments in health and education. “We could save up to 147 million children from death from under five [years old] child mortality, just with a 2 percent increase in expenditure in 74 countries.” That translates to about $30 billion a year.

UNICEF is urging countries to develop national plans so they can meet the ambitious targets they have committed to in the 2030 sustainable development agenda.

Africa struggling

The report raises the alarm for children in sub-Saharan Africa, where two out of three live in poverty and most have had less than four years of schooling.

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Conflict, corruption, poor governance and the effects of climate change are hindering sustainable progress on the sub-continent.

Poor Children in Africa(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Children in Africa. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“In those places like DR Congo, like South Sudan, like the Central African Republic, where a combination of conflict and poor governance has meant that they haven’t kept up with the rest of Africa, we need to continue to invest in those places,” said UNICEF Program Director Ted Chaiban.

UNICEF predicted if the developmental goals are not met, around 35 million African children will die before attaining an age of five from preventable causes and those who survive will have poor primary school attendance and 9 out of ten will live in extreme poverty. (VOA)

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  • AJ Krish

    It is not only the government but also the public who should work towards child nourishment. We see children on the roads, deprived of food,education and a house to live in.Yet we do nothing! It should start from the very bottom if these children are to be saved.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Children are the future, there should be something done to not let it happen

  • Aparna Gupta

    Children are the future of any nation. Africa must take the appropriate measures to save their future.

SHARE
  • AJ Krish

    It is not only the government but also the public who should work towards child nourishment. We see children on the roads, deprived of food,education and a house to live in.Yet we do nothing! It should start from the very bottom if these children are to be saved.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Children are the future, there should be something done to not let it happen

  • Aparna Gupta

    Children are the future of any nation. Africa must take the appropriate measures to save their future.

Next Story

Will Polio Workers Step Out of Their Comfort Zones to End Virus?

What's more, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan stretches for more than 2,000 kilometers. Thousands of people who cross this very porous border can easily transmit the virus in both countries.

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Polio
Widespread unrest in Afghanistan has kept thousands of children from receiving polio vaccines this year. Conflict in northern Nigeria does the same. VOA

The move to end Polio started in 1985 with Rotary International. At that time, polio paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children every year. There is still no cure, but two scientists developed vaccines against the virus in the 1950’s.

Dr. Jonas Salk produced one with an inactivated virus that could protect against polio without spreading the disease. Later, Dr. Albert Sabin developed an oral vaccine with weakened strains of the virus.

In 1988, public and private groups joined the effort in the Global Polio Eradication Program. Members included governments, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since then, the number of polio cases has dropped by 99.9 percent. Last year, 22 children were crippled by this disease. The wild polio virus exists in only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, but it’s still a global threat.

Dr. John Vertefeuille, from the CDC said, “This last mile is a complicated mile.” It’s not just because of conflict or terrorism. “It’s extreme remoteness. It’s very fragile health systems.” And in these remote conflict prone areas gaining access to children can be a major problem.

If polio exists anywhere, it can once again spread everywhere.

Polio
In many places the vaccinators are women because women can go into the homes, talk to other women and gain access to the children. Wikimedia

Vertefeuille and other experts discussed strategies to realize a polio-free world July 10 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Widespread unrest in Afghanistan has kept thousands of children from receiving polio vaccines this year. Conflict in northern Nigeria does the same.

What’s more, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan stretches for more than 2,000 kilometers. Thousands of people who cross this very porous border can easily transmit the virus in both countries.

While the funding and technical support has to come from large, private-public partnerships, immunization teams succeed best if they are local. Approaches have to take culture and customs into consideration.

In many places the vaccinators are women because women can go into the homes, talk to other women and gain access to the children.

Elsewhere, soldiers vaccinate children when they take over an area run by anti-government forces. Vaccination teams have to be prepared to move quickly when there is a lull in the fighting and to deliver multiple doses of vaccine in a short period of time.

Polio
Community volunteers are a great resource. Some get cell phones so they can alert health officials if a child becomes paralyzed. VOA

Surveillance is just as critical. To end polio, you have to know where the outbreaks are. Community volunteers are a great resource. Some get cell phones so they can alert health officials if a child becomes paralyzed.

Another challenge is getting children in migrant groups vaccinated. Vertefeuille says this is where technology helps. The CDC uses satellites to see where people have moved and what areas are abandoned. Clues are where structures have been repaired, where the grass grows on roads, indicating abandoned areas, and where it doesn’t, indicating where people are living.

Dr. Andrew Etsana from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said these groups present a particular challenge because “you have people moving with a virus and it is difficult to track them and vaccinate the vulnerable children in this mobile population.”

Another issue is the nature of viruses themselves. Viruses mutate. So far, the polio vaccines have been effective, but if not enough children get vaccinated, the virus can change, and perhaps make the vaccine less effective. That’s why every child needs to be vaccinated.

Outbreaks that can be avoided by vaccinating the whole population so that there are no gaps for the mutated virus to slip through.

International experts are working with local leaders to close this gap.

Another issue is complacency. Etsana said, “People are getting tired. The program has been going on. They thought it would have ended.”

Rotary has pledged to continue its support, other groups as well. International support and funding is critical to ending polio, but after three decades, many people have never seen polio. Etsana says he sees complacency creeping into all areas of the program. “The funders of the program are also getting tired. The fund is drying up and if the fund dries up and the job is not done, we’re going to have a major problem. We may have reinfection.”

Also Read-After Three Years Struggle, WHO Declares Somalia Polio Free

But, if people recognize the program’s value – it has united communities, established vaccine centers, created partnerships never before imagined – the world can not only end polio, but tackle other diseases as well. The polio program is widely credited with stopping the spread of Ebola in Nigeria while the disease ravaged other west African countries. (VOA)