14 March 2024

Young Mohin’s fight against a silent but fatal adversary

In the serene expanse of Mirzapur, Tangail, a stark tale unfolds – one that mirrors the resilience of a community grappling with the unseen perils of lead poisoning. Gorai in Mirzapur – an area under high threat of lead poisoning – is home to Mohin, a 14-year-old boy studying at the local high school. Mohin tells us the story of how an informal…, Unseen dangers , ‘Before the battery factory was shut, children used to play in the area regularly, often taking objects like used batteries, pieces of metal and used items home, unaware of the high lead count in them,” Mohin states in an ominous tone. The effects were not instantly felt in the community, but a lot of the children bringing the items home suffered…, Unveiling the effects , A recent UNICEF-supported Blood Lead Level (BLL) Surveillance study, conducted by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in 2022, identified lead in the blood of the 980 children tested in 4 districts, with BLL higher than 5 µg/dL among 40% of them. The number of children affected is about 35 million in Bangladesh…, Championing change , Amidst the lead pollution crisis and its devastating impact, UNICEF, in partnership with Pure Earth, has played a pivotal role in providing both technical and financial support to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) – primarily through the Protecting Every Child’s Potential (…, Empowering the community , Mohin has learned from the teachers at his school how lead can find its way to the human body, what harms it may cause, what everyday objects are high in lead content and how to avoid the negative effects.   “Our teachers said that lead could be found in everyday items like shiny utensils, children’s toys, batteries, paint and even in some food…
14 September 2023

Midwife Razia's journey to combat lead poisoning in Mirzapur

“Children are extremely vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning. However, if parents have the knowledge early on of how to mitigate its effects – their children will live a better life,” says Razia Sultana Tania resolutely. Razia is a young midwife who is the lifeline of the Upazila Health Complex in Zamurki, Mirzapur. With specialized…, An invisible threat, Lead poisoning is a silent and pervasive problem, especially in Bangladesh, with devastating effects on children's development and overall health. It is particularly destructive to babies and children under the age of five, because it can cause irreparable harm to children’s brains and hamper their ability to develop fully. Moderate to high levels…, Empowering the frontlines, In March 2023, a total of 35 health and education staff were trained as resource persons to support subnational capacity building activities using the recently developed national clinical management guideline on lead poisoning. Then, between May and August 2023, a total of 379 health care providers received training in four selected districts,…, Officials speak to health workers at the training on clinical management of lead poisoning in Mirzapur, Tangail., UNICEF Bangladesh/2023/Salek Officials speak to health workers at the training on clinical management of lead poisoning in Mirzapur, Tangail., Officials speak to health workers at the training on clinical management of lead poisoning in Mirzapur, Tangail., UNICEF Bangladesh/2023/Salek Officials speak to health workers at the training on clinical management of lead poisoning in Mirzapur, Tangail. Officials speak to health workers at the training on clinical management of lead poisoning in Mirzapur, Tangail. The training covered the background and situation of lead poisoning in Bangladesh, principal…, A voice of prevention, The training transformed Razia's approach to her work. She emerged from the program not only as a healthcare provider but as a beacon of knowledge and empowerment. With a deep understanding of lead poisoning and how it could affect the communities around her, Razia has become a trusted resource person in the health complex. Her newfound expertise…, Razia speaks to members of the community while on duty at the Upazila Health Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail., UNICEF Bangladesh/2023/Emran Razia speaks to members of the community while on duty at the Upazila Health Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail., Razia speaks to members of the community while on duty at the Upazila Health Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail., UNICEF Bangladesh/2023/Emran Razia speaks to members of the community while on duty at the Upazila Health Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail. Razia speaks to members of the community while on duty at the Upazila Health Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail. Amid her busy schedule, Razia took a moment to reflect on the impact of this training on her community. "…, A transformative partnership, Razia's dedication extends beyond the clinic walls. She has become a passionate advocate for lead poisoning prevention, spreading awareness about the principal sources of lead exposure, such as contaminated water, paint, and household items to pregnant and new mothers, making a significant difference in the lives of the families she serves. UNICEF…
16 February 2023

The healing power of art

Artistic activity such as painting, drawing, photography and poetry can play an important role in fostering mental health and well-being. Not only does the creative outlet help to channel feelings that can be difficult to express. It also reduces stress and anxiety by forming a healthy distraction from everyday worries, while at the same time…, “Harvesting hope” by Zaima Rahman, 15, “Harvesting hope” by Zaima Rahman, 15 “Even though it is winter, and the boats stand still on the dry grass, there is still green paddy. The farmers await with a smile full of hope for the rice. Winter will turn into spring, moisture will settle in, and the boats will sail again with the rice to the city. No matter what happens in our lives, how…, “A gateway to imagination” by Nusrat Binti, 22, “A gateway to imagination” by Nusrat Binti, 22 “Through drawing, I can clearly express the world only inside my imagination," says Nusrat, 22, who finds that painting is a beautiful way to clear her mind and make her feel more confident.  , “Saving the angels” by Nusrat Mim, 24, “Saving the angels” by Nusrat Mim, 24 “Every parent should inform and warn young members of the family about the acts of violence committed against children even if we may not be able to identify all the culprits straight away,” says Nusrat, 24, through this powerful and heart-wrenching message on the dangers out there that keep her up at night.  , “Battling with a brush” by Tasfia Ismat Athey, 16, “Battling with a brush” by Tasfia Ismat Athey, 16 “If you are battling anxiety, take a brush and paint whatever your mind wants. It works like medicine against depression, stress, or anxiety,” advises Tasfia, 16, who finds a safe haven from the chaos of life in her artwork.  , “What lies ahead” by Nehla Binte Hasan, 16, “What lies ahead” by Nehla Binte Hasan, 16 Sometimes, we tend to overthink and be oblivious to the many distressing things that are occurring in the world. Nehla, 16, penned this poem to reflect on how the myriad worries she bears amounts to little when compared with the millions starving.    , “Mind your plastic” by Minhazul Islam Mahib, 18, “Mind your plastic” by Minhazul Islam Mahib, 18 “Your plastic waste may end up destroying a beach far away,” says Minhazul, 18, who uses the powerful medium of photography to take action by capturing the issues that bear down on him and sharing widely on social media.  , “She's just stuck in her head” by Urmila Shetu, 21, “She's just stuck in her head” by Urmila Shetu, 21 “I was passionate about art since childhood. It helped me to reduce stress. I started doing it more during the COVID-19 lockdown. I used to get depressed easily during that time as I was away from normal life. So, art helped me to forget about stress and anxiety, improved my vision and insights…, “Reveal” by Tahziba Tawhid Gunjan, 7, “Reveal” by Tahziba Tawhid Gunjan, 7 "Through art, I share my feelings. It helps me tell the world what's bothering me, and most importantly, I can spread love to all and stay cheerful," says seven-year-old Tahziba in this cartoon about her inner battle against bullies and abuse in her life.  , “Revival” by Nuzhat Tabassum Cin, 16, “Revival” by Nuzhat Tabassum Cin, 16 "When my mind is fully blank, I try to draw or paint something. In this way, I feel refreshed before I sit down to study,” says 16-year-old Nuzhat on finding in art a path to prepare herself for the pressure of grueling homework that await highschoolers once they get home.  , “Tired of anxiety, loneliness and depression” by Asif Rahman, 18, “Tired of anxiety, loneliness and depression” by Asif Rahman, 18 “Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are now a big problem for children, teenagers, and adults,” says Asif, 18, who takes to the streets with his photography to learn more about the people around him who are going through mental health challenges.  , “Plant more trees” by Sutapa Prova Banik, 13, “Plant more trees” by Sutapa Prova Banik, 13 “I take care of my mental health by painting. I also try to reflect my concern for the environment in my art. For a healthy life, we should all plant more trees,” says Sutapa, 13, on how she cultivates environmental awareness in her artwork.  , “Mindful eye” by Fabiha Jannat, 16, “Mindful eye” by Fabiha Jannat, 16 “Art helps turn my imagination into reality,” says Fabiha Jannat, 16, whose secret to dealing with the pressures of life is to keep her my mind fresh through the metaphors she creates with her paintings.  , “Perspective” by Tomal Das, 20, “Perspective” by Tomal Das, 20 “I started taking photos about five years ago. Now, it has become a part of my daily life. Busying myself with a creative activity helps me deal with depression and anxiety,” says 20-year-old Tomal Das, who strives to capture life and light in all their shapes and forms as a representation of his thoughts in a photo…, “Shatchakra” by Niladry Shekhor Roy , 22, “Shatchakra” by Niladry Shekhor Roy, 22 "Art is an emotionally liberating way for the mind to relax and let go of all the difficulties that lead to a high level of stress. In addition to stimulating the creative mind, those who paint, those who write, and those who sing facilitate the relief of mental tension,” says Niladry Shekhor Roy, 22, on how…
15 December 2022

What is anxiety?

It is natural for children to feel worried and anxious at times, about things like friendships, speaking in front of a crowd or taking an exam. It’s when the worrying continues and makes everyday life hard that anxiety becomes a problem. The good news is that with the right professional help and through developing positive coping skills, anxiety…, What is anxiety?, Anxiety is the feeling you get when you’re worried or scared about something. It is a natural, human feeling of fear or panic. Afterwards, we usually calm down and feel better. Small amounts of worry and fear can help keep us safe and even protect us from danger. But sometimes anxiety can make us feel like things are worse than they actually are…, What causes anxiety?, It can be hard to pinpoint the exact causes of anxiety. When we face stressful situations, alarm bells go off in our brain telling us something isn’t right and that we need to deal with it. To make the difficult situation go away, our brain makes us more alert, stops us from thinking about other things and even pumps more blood to our legs to help…, Anxiety in children and adolescents, Children can feel anxious about different things at different ages. Many of these worries are a natural part of growing up. From the age of around 6 months to 3 years it's very common for young children to have separation anxiety. They may become clingy and cry when separated from their parents or caregivers. This is a normal stage in a child's…, Signs and symptoms of anxiety in kids, Anxiety symptoms can be complicated and may even arise long after a stressful event. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms: Physical: Shortness of breath, headaches or feeling faint A racing heart and sometimes high blood pressure Feeling fidgety, trembling or feeling weak in the legs Feeling sick in your stomach – cramps, diarrhoea or…, Ways to help your child cope, If your child is feeling anxious, the first thing you can do is remind them is that the feeling will pass. This will help to soothe them and feel less anxious. There are things you can do to help them cope and be better prepared. Explore the feeling together: Ask your child to observe their feelings of anxiety and tell you – what is happening when…, When to seek professional help, If anxiety is impacting your child’s daily life, professional treatment can make a huge difference. Your health-care provider can refer you to a mental health professional for an assessment and advice on treatment that is right for your child. If your child is offered counselling or talk therapy, they can speak with a trained mental health…
15 December 2022

What is depression?

All children feel low or down at times, it’s a natural part of growing up. But these emotions can be worrisome when felt intensely over long periods of time, particularly if they affect your child’s social, family and school life. Although it's hard for anyone to feel optimistic when they're depressed, depression can be treated and there are…, What is depression?, Depression is one of the most common types of mental health conditions and often develops alongside  anxiety . Depression can be mild and short-lived or severe and long-lasting. Some people are affected by depression only once, while others may experience it multiple times. Depression can lead to suicide, but this is preventable when appropriate…, What causes depression?, Depression can happen as a reaction to something like abuse, violence in school, the death of someone close or family problems like domestic violence or family breakdown. Someone might get depressed after being stressed for a long time. It can also run in the family. Sometimes we may not know why it happens.  , Depression in children and adolescents, Depression can show up in children and adolescents as prolonged periods of unhappiness or irritability. It is quite common among older children and teenagers, but often goes unrecognized. Some children might say they feel “unhappy” or “sad”. Others might say they want to hurt or even kill themselves. Children and adolescents who experience…, Signs and symptoms of depression in kids, Depression can feel different for different children. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of depression: Physical: Tiredness or low energy, even when rested Restlessness or difficulty concentrating Difficulty in carrying out daily activities Changes in appetite or sleep patterns Aches or pains that have no obvious cause Emotional and…, Ways to help your child cope, Here are some things you can do to support your child if you think they may be depressed: Find out what’s happening: Ask them how they’re feeling and listen openly without judgment or advice. Ask people you trust who know your child, like a favourite teacher or close friend, to find out if they’ve noticed anything that might be worrying them or…, When to seek professional help, As depression can only be diagnosed by a qualified expert, it's important to seek help from your health care provider who may refer your child to a mental health expert or psychiatrist. If the mental health expert thinks your child would benefit from treatment, the options might include some form of talk therapy – where they learn how to manage…
15 December 2022

What are panic attacks?

A panic attack is an intense feeling of fear and anxiety. It often happens if people feel anxious about something happening in their life or have experienced something difficult or stressful. Panic attacks can feel very frightening, especially for children, but they can usually be stopped with treatment. It’s important to know that a panic attack…, What is a panic attack?, A panic attack is a feeling of fear and anxiety that can overwhelm us quite suddenly and is usually accompanied by intense physical symptoms such as lightheadedness, shortness of breath and a racing heart. Many children feel a sense of terror during an attack, like something bad is about to happen. These feelings can occur even when there is no…, What causes panic attacks?, It is not always clear what causes panic attacks in children or adults. What we know is feeling anxious about something or experiencing something difficult or stressful can cause a panic attack. These situations include: Anxiety caused by a difficult experience at home or school Stress about things like exams, friendships or relationships The…, Panic attacks in children and adolescents, Panic attacks often begin during adolescence, although they may start during childhood. Attacks can lead to severe anxiety, as well as affecting other parts of a child's mood or functioning. Some children begin to avoid situations where they fear a panic attack may occur. Adolescents might use alcohol or drugs to reduce their anxiety. If not…, Signs and symptoms of panic attacks, If your child experiences a panic attack, they might feel out of control with what’s going on around them, scared that their body is in danger or even like they are dying. Our bodies can react in different ways to panic attacks. Some of these reactions include:  Breathlessness, quick breathing or finding it hard to breathe  Light-headedness or a…, Ways to help your child cope, Knowing what triggers an attack is the first step in attacking panic. Ask your child how they feel and what is making them feel anxious or stressed. Are there certain situations or places that cause them to feel panicky? This knowledge can help your child think about what they can do to cope with those situations.  During a panic attack, your…, When to seek professional help, In severe cases of panic attacks, the child or adolescent may be afraid to leave home. If you notice your child showing persisting symptoms of panic attacks, it is time to seek help from your healthcare provider. Children and adolescents with symptoms of panic attacks should first be evaluated by their family doctor or pediatrician. If no other…
11 December 2022

What is stress

We live in a time of increased stress in the world. Like adults, many children are struggling right now. We’re going through many drastic shifts in the world, but there are many other things that can also lead to stress in children – negative situations at home, violence in schools or exams. Even positive changes like moving to a bigger house or…, What is stress?, Stress is a common feeling we get when we feel under pressure, overwhelmed or unable to cope. Small amounts of stress can be good for us and motivate us to achieve goals like taking an exam or giving a speech. But too much of it, especially when it feels out of control, can negatively impact our mood, physical and mental well-being and…, What causes stress?, Children don’t always experience stress the way adults do. Whereas work-related stress is common among adults, most children experience stress when they cannot cope with threatening, difficult or painful situations. These include: Negative thoughts or feelings about themselves Changes in their bodies like the beginning of puberty The demands of…, Stress in children and adolescents, Stress can be triggered in children when they experience something new or unexpected. For young children, tensions at home such as domestic abuse, separation of parents or  the death of a loved one  are common causes of stress. School is another common reason – making new friends or taking exams can make children feel overwhelmed. As children grow…, Signs and symptoms of stress in kids, When the body is under stress it produces hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that prepare us for urgent action – also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This can have many effects on a child’s mind and body, such as: Physical Shallow breathing, sweating and a racing heart Headaches, dizziness and difficulty sleeping Nausea, indigestion or…, Ways to help your child cope, When children are feeling stressed, parents can play an important role in helping them find ways to cope. Like adults, children sometimes need to be reminded to be kind to themselves. Spot the triggers: Help your child recognize and begin to track the times they felt stressed and look for patterns in how they reacted. What was happening at the…, When to seek professional help, If your child is finding it difficult to cope, consider meeting with a trained expert who can help. Talk to your family doctor or a counsellor for advice. They should be able to advise you on available treatment, such as time with a psychologist who helps people to manage stress and establish positive mental health habits. Don’t be afraid to seek…