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At a glance: Venezuela, The Bolivarian Republic of

Trio for Life: Birth registration, immunization and breastfeeding give children head start in Venezuela

© UNICEF/HQ06-2402/Markisz
A couple registering their newborn child at the birth registration unit of a hospital in Maracaibo, capital city of Zulia State, Venezuela.

By Kun Li

MARACAIBO, Venezuela, 4 April 2007 – It was during the nationwide campaign called Trio for Life that eight-month-old Georgina first received her birth registration.

“I have nine children and I registered the last three in this Trio for Life programme,” said Sara Mateus, Georgina’s mother and a member of the indigenous Wayuu community in Venezuela.

As part of the campaign, little Georgina and hundreds of other children under five were also immunized against common childhood diseases including polio and measles. With a bright smile on her face, Ms. Mateus added, “The programme helps us keep the names of our children in the books and the vaccines also protect them against illnesses. Because of that, we are very happy and would like this programme to continue.”

After having their children fully immunized, mothers like Ms. Mateus can stop at a free seminar on feeding practices. Community volunteers use the opportunity to educate mothers on breastfeeding, the best way to provide food to babies during the first six months of life.

© UNICEF/HQ06-2405/Markisz
A mother breastfeeds her baby during the nationwide Trio for Life campaign, where birth registration, immunization and awareness on breastfeeding are carried out.

Three crucial services

Implemented by the Ministry of Health, Venezuela’s Trio for Life strategy offers three basic, but crucial, services to children nationwide. Birth registration, immunization and awareness on breastfeeding are carried out, in both urban and rural areas, to ensure children ─ especially the most impoverished and excluded such as the indigenous ─ can all benefit.

With UNICEF’s support, the first birth registration unit was created in one municipal hospital of Maracaibo, the capital of Venezuela’s most populous state Zulia. Prepared with brand new equipment, the staff can provide birth registration, in a matter of a few minutes, to all children born at the hospital.

Using the first registration as a model, 11 more units were created in other hospitals throughout Maracaibo. The new initiative will ensure that an average of 22,000 newborns leave the hospitals with birth certificates and vaccines each year. Also, the widespread use of the birth registration units will guarantee that mothers are properly educated about breastfeeding.

While the birth registration rate remains low in many parts of Venezuela, in Maracaibo, it has reached 86 per cent. The nationwide immunization coverage has also increased for children under one, another encouraging result achieved through the Trio for Life programme.




4 April 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on Venezuela’s Trio for Life campaign, during which birth registration, immunization and awareness on breastfeeding are provided free-of-charge to all children and their mothers.
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