NEW YORK (November 13, 2012) — Since unrest broke out in Rakhine State, Myanmar in June, UNICEF has provided urgently needed help to save severely malnourished children, to prevent water borne diseases and to provide basic necessities to displaced children and their families.
The agency urgently needs $1.5 million for emergency supplies and is also seeking additional funds to provide stable support to children and their families caught up in the crisis for the next several months.
Heightened tension between communities and the isolated location of some affected townships have posed access and security challenges, but UNICEF continues to reach out to affected children from all communities in Rakhine and is working hard to overcome security concerns and other barriers to access.
As part of the emergency response, some 44,000 children have gained access to protection programs, including 19,000 children under the age of 12, as a result of UNICEF’s training of Government Department of Social Welfare staff and 200 members of local communities. The training equipped them to carry out child protection assessments and to provide immediate assistance to children who are seriously distressed as a result of exposure to the crisis and its consequences. Help has also been provided to establish and coordinate community child protection groups.
After some logistical and security delays, emergency efforts are now underway to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases through the provision of clean water and safe sanitation. Some 9,300 internally displaced people have improved access to safe drinking water through the provision of shallow tube-wells and water purification products. They have been taught about the importance of personal hygiene and hygienic practices in reducing the risk of disease. About 1,100 households now have access to sanitary toilets and washing areas.
Plans are in place to provide lifesaving outpatient treatment for malnutrition and therapeutic feeding for up to 160 children ages 6 to 59 months; 8,100 children in the same age group will receive special multi-micronutrient sprinkle supplementation. Micronutrient tablets will be given to 3,500 pregnant and lactating women.
UNICEF and its partners are also providing support for improved access to emergency care and basic health services at health facilities and through mobile outreach health teams. The outbreak response and disease control plans also include strengthened disease surveillance and dissemination of health information.
Additional emergency supplies allocated by UNICEF and partners are being distributed, including 25 emergency health kits containing essential drugs and medical equipment for up to 250,000 people, and 500 family water and hygiene kits. Another 500 kits are expected to be dispatched to the region within a week. Some 2,500 tarps, 750 pipes and pans for latrines, water purification tablets and ceramic water filters, and 17 large water tanks have been provided to shelters.
Since 2007 UNICEF has been supporting education for children in need in Rakhine State, including by providing learning materials for children and schools and in-service teacher training to all government and community teachers, and by promoting child-centered teaching and learning methods. To increase their involvement, parents and communities have participated in special UNICEF-sponsored trainings on school management, self-assessment and planning. UNICEF has also provided funding for select schools to implement their improvement plans.
Programs to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV that began in 2008 are continuing in four townships. This support has improved the training and capacity of health workers and the quality of monitoring for HIV; essential pharmaceuticals and equipment have also been provided. As of September 2012, some 60% of pregnant women in Rakhine State had been tested for HIV—higher than the national average of 50%—and 100% of HIV positive pregnant women identified are either receiving antiretroviral treatment or prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission to their children.
UNICEF is committed to supporting the health, education, protection rights and prospects of all children in Rakhine State and across Myanmar, based on its humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.