Data collection and policy changes for children in Georgia
The Government and UNICEF review results achieved in 2006
TBILISI. 4 December, 2006. The Government of Georgia and UNICEF came together to review the achievements and constraints of programmes implemented in 2006 and to assess progress towards achieving the five-year country programme objectives.
“As 2006 was the first year of our new country programme, we mainly focused on conducting assessments and surveys to set benchmark indicators against which the effectiveness of the five year country programme could be measured,” said UNICEF Representative in Georgia, Giovanna Barberis.
“An assessment of the perinatal care service in Georgia, a child poverty study, a survey on iodine deficiency disorders, a study on child rearing, assessments of child welfare reform implementation, disabled children in institutions, internally displaced children living in collective centres and the administration of the juvenile justice system have all been carried out this year,” she added. “Most of these have already been completed and major findings have been identified. Next year we will start transforming these findings into concrete programmes and projects to address existing gaps and main areas of concern.”
UNICEF continued to support the Government in the procurement of vaccines for children under two. This year the Government has procured 50 per cent of these vaccines and in 2007 will fully take over the vaccine procurement process. The Government and UNICEF agreement on vaccine procurement saved 400,000 GEL (230,000 USD) from the state budget. More than 80 per cent of immunization workers have had training on improving vaccination practices.
UNICEF, with Government partners, developed the first comprehensive communication plan on immunization which targets the desired behaviour of mothers to take their newborn promptly to the nearest health facility for vaccination, and again at two, three and four months of age. The communication strategy on immunization includes a mix of interventions, such as administrative mobilization, public relations, interpersonal communication, advertisements through mass media, school promotion and business partnerships for immunization. The official launch of the campaign is planned for January 2007.
Considerable progress has been observed in the goal of eliminating micronutrient deficiencies. An Alliance for Improved Nutrition was created to act as a joint forum for policy development and inter-agency coordination for mirconutrient malnutrition and food fortification initiatives. One of the major initiatives for food fortification in Georgia was the development of the national programme on Flour Fortification. As a result of close collaboration between UNICEF and the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Affairs, Georgia has mobilized 1.2 million USD from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) on iron/folate fortification of wheat flour. The three-year programme supported by GAIN envisages fortification of over 80 per cent of locally-produced wheat flour with iron and folic acid.
UNICEF played a critical role in securing the GAIN resources for the national flour fortification programme and will continue to provide relevant technical assistance to the Government and the National Alliance for succesful implementation of the initiative.
The national programme and strategic plan for early childhood development was drawn up thanks to technical assistance from Yale University. The strategic plan will focus on child development in the health and pre-school education sectors.
Within the Child Protection programme, regulatory frameworks for child welfare were developed and national standards for the state, family support and family substitute services were set up.
UNICEF provided technical expertise to the Parliament in the development of draft laws on the social assistance system, adoption and foster care.
Strategies for the transformation of Tbilisi and Makhinjauri Infant Houses were developed. The UNICEF-supported Family Small Group Home in Rustavi and Community Centre in Tianeti set models for modern, alternative services in the country.
In 2006, more than 800 children avoided institutionalization by being reintegrated into their biological families or into foster families.
UNICEF supported the State Department of Statistics in improving data processing, data administration and data analysis.
UNICEF developed a good partnership with the Tbilisi State University. A training module on child-friendly reporting was prepared in close consultation with the Tbilisi State University and the Caucasus School of Journalism. A complete set of training materials together with a guidance note on its implementation was devised.
Within the new country programme UNICEF has made serious efforts to improve monitoring and reporting on child rights. In this regard UNICEF was active in supporting not only media institutions, but also independent human rights institutions, like the Public Defender’s Office, enhancing monitoring capacity. UNICEF has partnered with the Public Defender’s Office to revitalize the child rights centre. UNICEF will continue to support the child rights centre under the Public Defender’s Office to enhance its capacity in child rights monitoring.
Next year UNICEF will continue to influence policy changes in favour of children and to advocate for child-friendly programmes and strategies.
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Maya Kurtsikidze, Communications Officer, UNICEF Georgia