Death toll rising in Myanmar

The numbers coming out of Myanmar (as high as 10,000 according to the foreign minister referenced in the New York Times) make Friday's cyclone the world's deadliest storm since a 1999 cyclone in India.

An estimated 100,000 people--many of them children--are now homeless. Their most urgent needs are plastic sheeting for shelter, water purification tablets, cooking sets, bed nets, emergency health kits and food.

UNICEF has been working continuously in Myanmar since 1950, and will take the lead in addressing children's needs in this crisis.

If you would like to make a donation in support of these efforts, click here.

UNICEF in Uruguay gets creative

Faced with one of the country's worst economic crisis in history, Uruguay is struggling to provide their children with a good education. Many rural schools are in tatters, with few books and scant schools supplies. Current school drop-out rates top 40 percent in some communities. To turn the spotlight on this issue, the creative staff at UNICEF in Uruguay grabbed the media's attention this past winter by organizing a cross-country horseback trek to visit rural schools. Why on horseback? Because it's the traditional way many countryside children travel to school in Uruguay.

NewsNet: UNICEF and Education

UNICEF's success in helping reduce the global child mortality rate and its efforts to provide education to all children, even in the wake of emergencies, were highlighted earlier this week in a Financial Times profile. The article related a brief history of UNICEF, including its embrace of education as a central tenet of its mission to save and improve children's lives. It also discussed other current challenges, including the battle against HIV/AIDS and child exploitation.

How the food crisis affects kids

Thomas Fuller/The International Herald Tribune

There was an excellent article in the New York Times yesterday that explains how the global food crisis is affecting kids. The article looks at a school in Cambodia as a case study in the larger emergency that is threatening children from Southeast Asia and Africa, to Haiti and beyond.

Have a look here:

The story with maternal and neonatal tetanus

We've mentioned tetanus a few times in recent blog posts (like here and here) and I thought I'd briefly explain just why tetanus is such a big deal for us. In the U.S., we're routinely vaccinated against tetanus as kids, and we generally don't have to worry about it unless we have an accident that makes us vulnerable"like stepping on a rusty nail or falling down some old stairs (as I did a few weeks ago, necessitating a tetanus booster shot).

But, in many countries, tetanus remains a very big problem. It's a truly awful and painful condition that develops when a bacteria, Clostridium Tetani, contaminates a wound or cut. (For more information than you may want about tetanus, check out this Wikipedia page.) And in some countries, the fatality rate for tetanus is 70 to 100 percent.

UNICEF/ HQ00-0003/Giacomo Pirozzi

The growing food crisis

If you've followed the news at all in the last few weeks, you're probably aware of the developing worldwide food crisis. This has been THE story of late, and it's news we are watching very closely.

So what, exactly, is going on? Well, a whole lot, actually. First off, destructive weather events (which, some argue, are due to climate change) have caused whole seasons of crops to fail in certain parts of the world. In Bangladesh, for instance, Cyclone Sidr tore through the costal districts of the country last November and now, six months later, there's no rice harvest. In Somalia, the worst drought in decades is scorching plant life and killing livestock.

UNICEF/ HQ98-0527/Giacomo Pirozzi

NewsNet: Tracking progress in maternal, newborn and child survival

A report on child and maternal mortality released at the Countdown to 2015 conference in Cape Town, South Africa this week delivered an entwined mesh of good news and bad, hopeful gains and heart-wrenching shortfalls. Jointly authored by a broad coalition that includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization and many other groups, the report found that although there have been some strides in providing vaccinations, insecticide-treated bed nets and other interventions, the majority of countries with high child and maternal mortality rates were failing to provide vital health services to most women and children.