Conflicts in Africa Threaten Children’s Safety
The year began violently in sub-Saharan Africa, with sectarian conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic putting children at risk of violence and recruitment into armed groups.
“We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence against children,” says UNICEF representative Souleymane Diabate of the new wave of violence that began in the Central African Republic late last year. “More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks.”
To help quell the violence, thousands of troops from the African Union and the European Union have been deployed to the Central African Republic for peacekeeping. Humanitarian workers are also addressing an additional threat to children in the region: illness. UNICEF officials fear a polio or measles outbreak at camps crowded with more than 1 million people displaced by recent violence since last year. So aid workers have been delivering vaccines against the diseases.
India Marks 3 Years Free of Polio
Compassion plays an important role in the fight against polio in India. Children in Compassion’s programs receive immunizations, including the polio vaccine.
India has marked three years with no reported cases of polio, an achievement that the World Health Organization (WHO) hails as a milestone in the global polio fight. Because India historically has been the world’s major source of the virus, the milestone will likely benefit other parts of the world.
WHO credits an aggressive vaccination campaign that India’s government, local nonprofits and international organizations began in 2009. Compassion sponsors and donors have been part of the effort, too: At nearly 650 child development centers in India, registered children whose families often cannot afford vaccines receive immunizations against polio and other diseases.
AIDS Update: Infant Infections Fall, Adolescent Deaths Rise
Children in Uganda attend a funeral for a community member who died of AIDS.
Worldwide, the rate of HIV infection among infants fell dramatically between 2005 and 2012, says a new UNICEF report. The sixth annual report on children and AIDS shows that countries in sub-Saharan Africa made enormous progress in reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission — new infections among infants fell by 76 percent in Ghana and 50 percent in Ethiopia between 2009 and 2012. A new antiretroviral treatment called Option B+ can treat women living with HIV and prevent transmission to their babies via birth or breast-feeding.
But in stark contrast to the progress made among infants and mothers, AIDS-related deaths among people ages 10 to 19 increased by 50 percent during the same period, the report says.
Compassion is on the forefront of health care and education, teaching pregnant mothers in the Child Survival Program how to prevent HIV transmission to their babies and offering antiretroviral therapy to infected children and caregivers. Compassion also offers services that people in many communities would not receive otherwise, such as transportation to clinics, lab tests and counseling.
SOURCE: UNICEF's 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS
Educated Women Raise Healthier Children
Because a mother’s education is vital to her health and the well-being of her children, Compassion offers literacy and other types of training to moms in the Child Survival Program.
The education of women largely influences the health of children around the world, shows a new report from UNESCO. The 11th annual Education for All Global Monitoring Report found that a mother’s education level affects her children in several ways. First, educated mothers are more likely than those with no education to ensure that their children receive proper nutrition — an especially important finding in impoverished countries, where malnutrition is a leading cause of death and illness.
In addition, educated mothers are better informed about specific diseases, so they can take preventive steps and seek treatment. For example, pneumonia is the leading cause of child deaths worldwide. One extra year of maternal education can cut the pneumonia death rate by 14 percent, the report says. In malaria-endemic areas, the chance of children having malaria parasites is 22 percent lower if their mothers finished primary school than if their mothers had no education.