UNITED NATIONS, (APP):
Although the number of children under five years dying from diarrhoea each year in Afghanistan has dropped below 10,000 for the first time, the disease still claims the lives of 9,500 children, or 26 each day, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
“Deaths from diarrhoea are particularly tragic because in most cases, they can be easily avoided,” Adele Khodr, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative, said. “Using a toilet and washing your hands is literally a matter of life or death.”
Diarrhoea-related deaths account for around 12 per cent of the 80,000 deaths of children under the age of five that occur annually in Afghanistan, the agency said.
The risks associated with diarrhoeal infections are exacerbated in the country, where some 1.2 million children are already malnourished and 41 per cent of children are stunted, it said. Poor sanitation and hygiene compound malnutrition, leaving children more susceptible to infections that cause diarrhoea, which in turn worsens malnutrition.
Providing access to safe water and improved sanitation facilities in villages and towns across the country is critical, Ms. Khodr said, adding that community-led efforts to improve hygiene practices are the simple and most effective way to save lives.
While insecurity continues to affect humanitarian access to parts of the country and slows development, there is still progress, UNICEF said. The district of Nili, in Daykundi province, central Afghanistan, was declared as the country’s first ˜open defecation free district” at a ceremony on 1 November.
Towns and villages across Nili took on the community-led approach in which families identify areas around their homes that are used as toilets. Through a combination of shock, shame, pride and disgust, families without a toilet decide to build their latrine.
Community-wide commitment and some peer pressure does the rest and typically after three to six months an entire community has given up defecating in the open, contributing to a healthier environment for everyone, it said.
According to UNICEF’s report Generation 2030 Africa 2.0, some 11 million education and health personnel will be needed to keep pace with the projected unprecedented population growth of children in Africa – an increase of 170 million children between now and 2030.African’s under-18 population will reach 750 million by 2030 – scaled-up investment in health, education and women’s protection and empowerment will be needed or the continent will face a ‘bleak’ future, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported Thursday.
According to the report, almost half of the continent’s population is under 18 years old – and the majority of the population in around one-third of the 55 African Union member States is children. Current projections foresee the number of Africa’s children topping one billion by 2055.
The report identifies three key issues for investment: health care, education and the protection and empowerment of women and girls. Concretely, to meet minimum international standards in health care and best practice targets in education, Africa will have to add 5.6 million new health workers and 5.8 million new teachers by 2030.
We are at the most critical juncture for Africa’s children,” Ms. Pakkala underscored. “Get it right, and we set the foundation for a demographic dividend, which could lift hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, and contribute to enhanced prosperity, stability, and peace.”
UNICEF recommends three policy actions to create the socio-economic conditions for Africa’s coming generations.
The first is to improve health, social welfare, and protection services to meet international standards; or beyond, in countries close to attaining them.
Secondly, it recommends Africa's educational skills and vocational learning system be adapted through curricula reform and access to technology to meet the needs of a twenty-first century labour market.
The report also prescribes that Africa secures and ensures the right to protection from violence, exploitation, child marriage and abuse; removes barriers preventing women and girls from participating fully in community, workplace and political life; and enhances access to reproductive health services.
LET'S MOVE TO THE FILE Generation 2030 Africa 2.0
Prioritizing investments in children to reap the demographic dividend
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