With more than 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state, roughly equal in population to Brazil. It is best recognized for timeless landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and the historic Hindu city of Varanasi.
A vibrant industrial and agricultural region, Uttar Pradesh has struggled with one of the highest infant and child mortality rates in India and polio is still endemic here.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to bring in positive change, including strengthening the state’s vast health care network.
UNICEF also plays a crucial role in one of the world’s largest public health campaigns, mobilizing thousands of people to help in the effort to eradicate polio from the state and from the world.
Although one third of the state’s population lives below the poverty line and the state has the highest number of children who leave school to work, education programmes introduced by UNICEF and its partners are ensuring more children stay out of labour and go to school.
Life can be short and uncertain for many children in Uttar Pradesh, where many of them never make it past their fifth birthday, falling victim to malnutrition, diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses. It is often the poor and those living in rural areas that suffer the most.
A cycle of poverty, illness and death occurs, in part, because many girls are married off in their teens. Usually suffering from chronic malnutrition themselves, young wives have babies early and many do not survive childbirth. The maternal mortality rate here is one of the highest in India. UNICEF is playing a key role in halting this deadly cycle in partnership with the Government of Uttar Pradesh and NGO partners.
Challenges and Opportunities
With the fertility rate in Uttar Pradesh among the highest in the country, the population of the state is growing at a far faster rate than the national average. Each woman generally gives birth to at least four babies during her lifetime.
Some of the largest challenges being faced in the state are high child mortality rates, inadequate immunization against disease and the highest number of child labourers in India.
With timely assistance, steady progress is being made as communities seize the opportunity to participate in a variety of initiatives that address their concerns.
More Challenges and Opportunities:
• Diarrhoea is a leading cause of childhood deaths in Uttar Pradesh.
UNICEF is currently supporting the Government of Uttar Pradesh in targeting key areas of concern, from raising the levels of routine immunization to the creation of sick newborn care units at district hospitals to the extensive training of front-line health workers to properly identify and treat common childhood diseases.
UNICEF is also supporting the creation of an enabling protective environment for children through raising awareness of the various stakeholders and communities about child rights, especially the rights to education and protection among the most vulnerable and marginalized population groups. Substantive work is done by UNICEF in Uttar Pradesh to change attitudes, behaviours and practices related to children.
Highlights of UNICEF’s work in Uttar Pradesh:
• Parents and health care workers are taught how to use oral rehydration salts and zinc tablets to treat diarrhoea.
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