Let’s Unite for Children!
Greetings and welcome to the very first issue of Unite for Children, a publication with which UNICEF in Romania has a twofold intention. First, we hope to be able to raise awareness of the numerous complex issues facing children today, in Romania and the world over. Second, we hope to clarify UNICEF’s role in the development of children and the promotion and defence of their rights in Romania.
Each issue of Unite for Children will be based around a theme vitally important in the lives of children, and the theme for this pilot issue – breastfeeding - could not be more fundamental to their rights. Breastfeeding is every child’s birthright; breast milk is unquestionably the most natural, holistic and nutritious food for infants but while the majority of mothers begin by breastfeeding their newborn children, a variety of factors often conspire to discourage them, which prevents a baby from receiving the healthiest foundation in life. UNICEF’s global programme, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, reviews maternity facilities and designates them with ‘baby friendly’ status if they succeed in meeting standards that support and encourage new mothers in breastfeeding.
Since its inception in 1991 almost 20,000 maternity facilities in almost 150 countries have been accorded ‘baby friendly’ status. Of Romania’s more than 200 maternity facilities, currently ten have demonstrated that their conditions, resources and staff are sufficiently baby friendly to meet the required standards. The UNICEF Gala Telethon, held in May 2008 on Romania’s national television channel TVR was designed to raise sufficient funding to support another 20 maternity facilities to achieve ‘baby friendly’ status. We were delighted that Nana Mouskouri, whose role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador sees her traveling the world in support of children, could be with us to help achieve that goal.
Since my arrival in Romania earlier this year I have looked to build on and develop the work of my predecessors and the hardworking and committed staff of UNICEF in Romania. While it is true that Romania represents a new personal challenge, the issues and problems facing children are no less confronting and immediate, and I look forward to working closely with Romania’s government, our staff, our donors, our volunteers and our advisors in uniting for children, and helping to build better lives for them.