Parents receive information on baby care through mobile phones thanks to the Civil Registry and UNICEF new partnership initiative
TBILISI. 30 March. 2010. New initiative is being launched in Georgia to educate parents on baby care and early childhood development issues. The Civil Registry of Georgia in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and UNICEF will develop new software to disseminate important information about child care and development through mobile SMS services.
Thanks to this initiative mothers of all the newborns in Georgia will soon receive the essential information and messages on child health and development and desirable childcare practices.
“The Civil Registry of Georgia is starting to take care of healthy generation using new technologies”, said Mr Giorgi Vashadze, Head of the Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. “The Civil Registry is oriented to promote effective use of new technologies in public service and it is one of the leading agencies in maintaining close contacts with the population. In this view, we are please to make our contribution in educating parents about such an important issue as baby care. The future of our generation depends on the opportunities of development they have today”. added Mr Vashadze.
The messages about baby care have been derived from the Parent-Baby Book developed by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia with the support of UNICEF within the Early Childhood Development National Action Plan. ‘Parent-Baby Book’ is Child’s personal record on health and development and aims at recording the growth and development of an individual child from birth to the age of six; serves as an educational tool for families and caregivers on young children’s health, development and protection and is considered as an auxiliary tool and source of information for health providers on the family care practices with respect to children.
“We are happy to continue our partnership with the Civil Registry of Georgia and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs on this important initiative”, said Mr Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “The first years of a child’s life are a time of immense opportunity for growth and development. This time forms the basis for and defines the person's emotional, psychological, social, cognitive character, basic skills and personality development. In view of this, the care and attention a child receives in his/her early years is vital as it impacts the later life. Early Childhood Development takes into account a wide range of children’s needs: good health care and nutrition for children and mothers, clean water and proper sanitation, psycho-social care and attention to early learning, along with better protection from violence, exploitation and discrimination. It is of crucial importance to consider all of these components to ensure the best possible start in life for every child”, Monasch added.
The Parent-Baby Book is promoted as an integral part of the Georgia health care system and will be distributed through Maternity Houses and Public Health Care facilities to families when a child is born. Health care providers will support families in the use and maintenance of a child’s records before a mother is discharged from the Maternity House as well as during subsequent contacts with the Public Health Care facilities.
The Civil Registry Agency will participate in introduction of the Parent Baby Book to the general public by promoting positive practices to parents, caregivers of newborns and children up to six years of age. The age-appropriate simple key messages from the Parent-Baby Book will be delivered via cellular network using the two major providers operating in Georgia, MAGTI and GeoCell, those covering the entire territory of the country.
The respective Positive Parenting Software that will allow the automatic distribution of the messages will also be developed within the project. The parents, while receiving the birth certificate, will be asked to indicate in which language they would like to receive the key messages (in Georgian or in Russian). The new software and the messaging will also provide parents with useful information on various medical and social activities and programmes.
“It is very interesting and innovating to use mobile messaging for disseminating the information”, said Mr Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “According to the latest UNICEF survey, 61 per cent of households in Georgia possess at least one mobile phone and thus mobile phones can become an effective tool through which the key messages on baby care can be disseminated. It is important to get the word out through various means of communication that mothers of newborns are well aware of what their babies need in their early age.”
The studies demonstrated inadequate knowledge and practices among parents and families for young child care, healthcare, and development. Responsive parenting and early stimulation practices were found to be inadequate in at least two thirds of families; 56 per cent of families do not have resources to promote early child development (i.e. books, toys); fathers involvement in early childhood development is also inadequate; 60 per cent of families report corporal punishments as a common and frequent practice with a high (11 per cent) child injury rate at home.
The National Strategic Plan of Action for Early Childhood Development includes a clear focus on educational programmes on early child development for parents and families (including rural/urban population, vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups), within both the health and education sectors.
The main purpose of the Civil Registry Agency (CRA) is to gather, verify, organize and maintain information on residents throughout Georgia. The reform implemented within the CRA resulted in the rationalization of the entire system of civil acts registration (of births, deaths, marriages, divorce, affiliation, etc.) and the administration and issue of identity cards and passports. The CRA operates under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Justice and apart from supervision and the coordination of the collection of the above data and issuance of identity documents and certificates, is also responsible for defining appropriate policies. As of 1 February 2009 the functions of CRA were expanded based on legislative amendments. The CRA assumed the competences of the Department on Civil Issues of the Ministry of Justice.
UNICEF is on the ground in 150 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.
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