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Uttar Pradesh

Bulawa toli, a group of young volunteers, mobilise community for polio immunisation on the polio booth day. Donning caps with polio messages and badges, these young advocates run house-to-house shouting slogans and blowing whistles to draw attention of the children and parents to the polio booth. Credit: UNICEF India/2010/Rita Dhankani

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.

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 played a crucial role in one of the world’s largest public health campaigns, mobilizing thousands of people 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.
• The full immunization rate in Uttar Pradesh is among the lowest in the country and many children do not receive routine immunization for diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and tuberculosis..
• Chronic iron deficiencies in women are causing miscarriages or mental retardation of their newborns while anaemia is making them more prone to poor health in general, mental illness and death.
• With many families living below the poverty line and sending their children to work, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of child labourers in the country. These children often work in back-room shops making carpets or metalware, or as domestic servants in people’s homes. Since these instances are difficult to detect and monitor, children can face abuse or, in extreme cases, death.

UNICEF in Action

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.
• From remote villages to crowded urban slums, thousands of pregnant women and new mothers are learning proper breastfeeding and nutrition practices from a newly trained network of health workers.
• Millions of children, aged one to five, are receiving vitamin A supplements to protect them from blindness and disease.
• To fight polio, UNICEF is working closely with the state government, international organizations and local partners in the field to develop innovative ways of convincing all families that polio drops are essential to protect their children from the disease and to ensure that every child in the state is immunized.
• UNICEF is also supporting government plans to improve immunization rates and assisting with sanitation and safe drinking water initiatives.
• To ensure that working children return to school, UNICEF, the state government are running outreach programmes, supported by IKEA Foundation, to inform people about the harms of child labour and children’s right to education.
• UNICEF is supporting the introduction of Meena Manch girls clubs in all upper primary schools in the state, to encourage adolescent girls to stay in school and complete their education.
• Other programmes supported by UNICEF aim to increase school enrolment for disadvantaged children.
• UNICEF also works with partners to train child reporters to write and publish news stories about issues in their lives and their communities that concern them.
• UNICEF has helped organize the first Children’s Parliament for government members in Uttar Pradesh, helping to raise awareness and increase understanding of child protection issues in the state.

Address of UNICEF State Office for Uttar Pradesh

B-3/258,Vishal Khand
Gomti Nagar
Lucknow – 226 010
Phone: 0522 – 409 3333
Fax: 0522 – 409 33223 




For every child
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