UNICEF conducts assessment mission to flood affected areas of Western Ukraine(c)UNICEF/2008/UKR/5864/Sherstyuk
7-8 August 2008: A UNICEF team including UNICEF Representative Jeremy Hartley and Child Development Officer Elena Sherstyuk undertook a fact- finding mission to the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine, the hardest hit by the recent floods. UNICEF joined a UN Country Team mission led by the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, and including the WHO Representative and UNDP experts.
The UNICEF team met with representatives of local state authorities, health care workers and families affected by the floods in seven settlements in the region.
In its assessment UNICEF focused on:
UNICEF found that the situation is well controlled by central, regional and local government authorities including the Ministry of Emergencies and the armed forces and that there are no urgent emergency humanitarian or disaster management assistance needs. The major needs, however, are in the prevention of water-borne diseases, the restoration of agricultural land and long-term environmental and development assistance. In addition, the field visits demonstrated that rural communities do not receive adequate support and major and urgent needs are there.
UNICEF will provide assistance to local health clinics and hospitals that were damaged by the floods, including with basic equipment and some minor repairs, and to help ensure that local communities have access to clean drinking water. All assistance will be provided in the framework of the UN system in Ukraine's consolidated response for medium and long-term recovery.
Other UN agencies response
WHO's assistance will be aimed at controlling the epidemiological situation and assessing drinking water quality while UNDP intend to provide small grants to the affected communities and support them through the network of existing projects within the Local Development Programme cluster and provide assistance in medium and longer term recovery and disaster prevention.
Heavy rains and storms in Central and Eastern Europe that started on 22-23 July and continued for several days resulted in rising high waters of the Rivers Dnister and Prut, leading to serious floods in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. As a result of the natural disaster 39 people are reported to have died in Ukraine alone.
The floods, perhaps the worst in Ukraine for 200 years, have affected six regions (oblasts) in the west of the country - Lviv, Zakarpattya, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and Vinytsia. Total losses in these regions are estimated at UAH 3-4 billion (US$ 600-900 million). A total of 523 settlements and over 24,000 hectares of farmland were flooded and 360 bridges and 560 footbridges damaged.
For UN situation reports on floods in Western Ukraine, please visit http://www.un.org.ua/en/floods/
Kateryna Kartashova (16), youth participant at the UN General Assembly in New York in December 2007
Kateryna from Ukraine is one of more than 85 children who have gathered this week at the Millennium Hotel in New York, United States, at the World Fit for Children +5 Children's Forum.
The Forum has been organised so that children's voices can be heard at the meeting to evaluate the progress made in fulfilling the goals set out in the UN's World Fit For Children plan of action.
The meeting is officially called the Commemorative High Level Plenary Meeting Devoted to the Follow-Up to the Outcome of the Special Session on Children, and is taking place from 11 to 12 December.
At the Forum, key issues related to the two thematic interactive round-tables are being discussed, and participating children will choose one boy and one girl to speak at the closing session of the plenary. In order to generate an interactive discussion, children are also preparing their perspectives and issues to be raised at the round-tables.
The themes to be discussed at the round-tables are 'Promoting healthy lives and combating HIV and AIDS', and 'Providing universal quality education as key to achieving the MDGs and as the first line of protection against abuse, exploitation and violence against children'.
Kateryna gave an interview to the CRIN website where she talks about her expectations and her special interest in child rights:
Profile - Kateryna Kartashova from Ukraine
Kateryna is active in all spheres of life – she is both artistic personality and child activist. Kateryna’s interests include: dancing, singing, writing poems, organization of different artistic and other events. She takes an active part in activities of the Pupils’ Democratic Republic (school self-governance body). Due to her active participation in school self-governance she was elected to become a Head of Child Advisory Board to Romny Municipal Administration. The Board is composed of 32 representatives of each secondary school of the town. The Board is taking part in solving issues of concern to children in the town and encourages their participation in the local self-governance. Children work closely with the Municipal Council’s members and advise them on how to make the town more child-friendly. Particularly, they advise on a number of issues concerning safety, environmental issues, leisure and recreation, and other issues of concern to children living in the town.
Children who are members of the Advisory Board are not expecting others to do everything for them - they try to solve problems themselves. Thus, on 1 June 2007 Child Advisory Board decided to make a surprise for little citizens of the town. It organized a program including entertainment and competitions with presents and awards. The event was organized using money collected during fundraising campaigns ‘Don’t be Indifferent’, ‘Make Children Happy’, and ‘If I were Romny’s Mayor’.
In September 2007 Kateryna participated in All-Ukrainian Meeting of Young Leaders in ‘Artek’ International Child Center3. In the meeting in ‘Artek’ Kateryna took part in all activities aimed at upbringing of young Ukrainian leaders. Without a doubt, Kateryna is a young Ukrainian leader – eager to learn, work hard and participate in the life of the local community to the benefit of her country.
Eighteen years ago the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was first ratified. Today, the first generation of children to grow up under the protection of the CRC has reached adulthood.
The CRC spells out the basic human rights of children everywhere: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harm, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. It sets the ground rules for a better life for all children, and is the most widely ratified human rights agreement in the world. Almost all States have ratified the CRC, and are therefore obligated to fulfill, protect and promote children’s rights. By acceding to the CRC, national governments commit themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights. The best interest of the child reigns supreme.
Nigeria is advocating for protecting Ukrainian children from mental retardation due to iodine deficiency.
‘If Nigeria defeated the iodine deficiency, Ukraine also can do it if there is a strong political will’. This was the key message of the impressive presentation of Prof. Dora Akuniyili, Director General of Food and Drug Administration in Nigeria, delivered at the Round table on the Ethical Aspects of the Prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders in the frame of Third National Congress of Bioethics in Kiev, Ukraine, 10 October 2007. The main objective of the round table organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences and supported by UNICEF was to create high level consensus on the strategy for the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency disorders in Ukraine and to support adopting universal salt iodization.
Iodine deficiency disorders remain a national health problem in Ukraine nationwide. Every year 80 per cent of newborns are unprotected from iodine deficiency and are at risk of irreversible mental and cognitive damage and a reduction of their IQ potential. The results of a national survey conducted in 2002 by CDC Atlanta, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Ministry of Health and supported by UNICEF, clearly demonstrated the existence of iodine deficiency nationwide. Results from small scale studies conducted during the period of the last government National Programme to eliminate iodine deficiency for 2002-2005, confirms that low iodine intake exists not only in the western part of the country (recognised as ‘endemic’) but also in central and western Ukraine and in the Chernobyl affected regions in northern Ukraine.
National representative survey on consumption of iodised salt (MICS, 2005) showed that only some 30 per cent of the population of Ukraine consume iodised salt while only 17 percent of all salt samples are adequately iodised. This demonstrates that there is no efficient prevention of iodine deficiency in Ukraine, nor is there a state food control system that protects consumers’ rights regarding the food safety, including the consumption of standard iodised salt.
Persisting iodine deficiency in Ukraine results in considerable adverse consequences for both the population and the economy. A cost benefit analysis conducted by UNICEF in conjunction with the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Ministry of health and salt producers in May 2006, indicates that some 320,000 children with impaired intellectual capacity - resulting in depressed school and work performance - will be born to iodine deficient women over the next 10 years. Based on national economic statistics, IDD will result in an estimated loss of nearly US$330 million to Ukraine’s economy over the next decade, equivalent to 54 million workdays. On the other hand, the added cost to consumers of iodising salt is anticipated to be about US$0.01 per person per year. The cost of salt iodisation over the next five years, if universal salt iodisation is adopted, is estimated at US$2.4 million and this will prevent the entire population of Ukraine from iodine deficiency. At current rates, some US$400 million would be spent on iodine tablets for children and pregnant women alone.
Ukraine has all necessary conditions to implement universal salt iodisation (USI) as the country is the main salt producer in the CEE/CIS Regions and a good developed network of State Sanitary Stations for quality control of iodised salt. The only missing in Ukraine is understanding and awareness about the consequences of iodine deficiency on the country economics and development and a strong political commitment to resolve the problem on the most efficient and cost-effective way.
To share the successful story of IDD elimination in Nigeria to the round table was invited Prof. Dora Akuniyili from Nigeria. Nigeria is the first African country certified as IDD free in 2005. The mandatory iodisation law was adopted in Nigeria in 1993 and today 98 per cent of the population consumes iodised salt. The world recognised advocate for elimination of iodine deficiency Prof. Akuniyili stressed that this success became real only because a strong government's political commitment, multi-sectoral collaboration between NAFDAC, UNICEF, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Micro-nutrient Initiative, Salt Manufacturers, media and other stakeholders.
What is still missing in Ukraine to be successful in IDD elimination was the main issue discussed during the round table chaired by the Deputy Minister of Family Youth and Sport Mrs. Svetlana Tolstouhova. Only the adoption of national legislation can ensure implementation of the strategy of USI that will contribute significantly to the good mental and physical health of all children in Ukraine was the final conclusion of the round table. The final statement in support of universal iodisation provided to the new Cabinet of Ministers will be the outcome of the conference.
Ukrainian celebrity Ani Lorak supports the UNICEF Communication Campaign on prevention of the spread of avian influenza.
In the framework of the campaign on prevention of the spread of avian influenza UNICEF produced short video (PSA) features Ani Lorak as well as posters for youth and children with Ukrainian celebrity on it.
“I’m always eager to give a support when somebody needs assistance. Moreover, I liked the idea itself. I received a great pleasure from the shoot and made friends with children who participated in the video. Children were very talented and their skills exited me a lot: the shoot took all day and it needs a strong commitment, but they behaved very professional”, said Ani Lorak after the shoot.
United Nations Children’s Fund has started the campaign on prevention of avian influenza in Ukraine in May 2006. The campaign is being implementing in the 8 regions of Ukraine and AR Crimea has wide audience including children and youth.
The goal of the communication campaign is to increase the knowledge of the general public, and specifically children, on avian influenza and pandemic influenza in Ukraine in order to prevent its spread in the event of an outbreak.
While avian influenza is serious in itself, pandemic influenza, or a global outbreak of human-to-human transmission, remains a far greater risk to human life, with possibly several million deaths globally. International health authorities believe that a pandemic will occur but they cannot say when.
Despite the fact that avian influenza is a universally recognized problem, most of the former Soviet Union countries are not prepared for the pandemic influenza. Seven out of ten people who died of H5N1 virus in our region were children, that is why providing families with correct information is a crucial issue in Ukraine.
In response to the intensive spread of avian influenza around the world UNICEF is implementing a communication campaign on the prevention of the spread of avian influenza in more than 140 countries, including Ukraine. Campaign involves many Goodwill Ambassadors, and is being represented in Asia by Jackie Chang.
CHILDREN'S ART IN FOCUSE AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON IODINE DEFICIENCY DISORDERS
Lviv, Ukraine - 30 October - Last week UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health concluded a three day national conference on iodine deficiency disorders - the single most preventable cause of brain damage in children in the world, and a serious public health problem in Ukraine.
The conference was the first step in establishing a national system to monitor progress towards the elimination of iodine deficiency. The system will monitor the status of iodine nutrition in the general population of Ukraine as well as the availability, distribution and consumption of iodised salt - the most cost-effective and safe way to ensure that children get the iodine they need to grow up with their full mental capacity.
The event attracted high-level participation from the Ministry of Health, members of the Lviv oblast administration, the vice-president of the Academy of Science, representatives of sanitary stations as well as members of non-governmental organisations.
To raise public awareness and campaigning for salt iodisation a children's art exhibition on the theme Problems of Chernobyl Through the Eyes of Children was opened at the Lviv Museum. Through their paintings, children demonstrated the importance of iodine nutrition for healthy child development and the impact of iodised salt. All the children involved in the art project received a certificate from UNICEF Representative Jeremy Hartley for their commitment to a Ukraine free from iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).
Following a day devoted to advocacy, a three day conference was organized to discuss how iodine deficiency prevention can be efficiently managed in Ukraine. Participants discussed the draft law for iodised salt, the National Programme for iodine deficiency elimination and the monitoring of quality iodised salt.
The UNICEF supported project 'Lviv - an iodine deficiency free region' was shown as a model for effective prevention at the oblast (regional) level: since 2004, the use of iodised table salt among households in Lviv oblast has substantially increased to 65 per cent - in comparison with the national average of only 31 per cent. This success has been largely due to a multisectoral approach, implemented within existing government structures, that included oblast level legislation, social marketing of iodised salt and communication for behaviour change. The Ministry of Health, UNICEF and partners are now hoping that the success of the Lviv model will be replicated and implemented in other oblasts of Ukraine.