Child Health Day in Jongju City, DPR Korea
Extra special Child Health Day with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC)
It was my first Child Health Day in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea) and this year was extra special with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) in full swing globally.
DPR Korea ratified the CRC in September 1990. To mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF supported the Government of DPR Korea in three ways: organising a drawing competition for children on the theme “for every child, dreams”; conducting the second National Child Health Day of the year and issuing the latest Situation Analysis of Children and Women.
Across the country on Child Health Day, 1.7 million children five years and under receive a package of essential, low-cost interventions to help improve their health and nutrition. At a cost of USD$3 per child, the package includes deworming tablets and vitamin A capsules, multi-micronutrient supplements for household fortification of food, and enough oral rehydration salts to treat one episode of diarrhoea.
The Child Health Day is also an opportunity to pass important messages on handwashing and to make sure that children are reaching the correct developmental milestones. They are particularly screened for acute malnutrition and if needed, children will be referred for further treatment.
We travelled to a health centre in Jongju City three hours north-west of Pyongyang. It is an area where UNICEF is supporting the Government of DPR Korea to deliver essential services to children and their families.
On arrival, we met representatives from the local People’s Committee who confirmed that they expected a good turnout at the health centre as local medical staff had been informing people when and where the Child Health Day in the city were due to take place.
The health centre was bustling with babies, young children and their caregivers, mainly mothers and grandmothers. They queued quietly, registered with a nurse and were then ushered into a room where young children received their vitamin A capsules and were screened for malnutrition. It was all very swiftly managed with the children dutifully taking their capsules and raising their arms to be measured.
The mothers and grandmothers I spoke to said that they had heard about the Child Health Day from their local health clinic and they understood that vitamin A was a good way to boost their child’s immune system and help make them healthier.
UNICEF colleagues visited health clinics across the country to take part in Child Health Day activities and to support governments counterparts to successfully provide this life-saving service to children.
“We know that 1 in 5 children in DPR Korea are stunted, which is fueled by, among other factors, inadequate diets in young children. To combat this and address other health issues, UNICEF works with the Ministry of Public Health to organize Child Health Day in May and November each year. The interventions are low-cost and have a huge impact on the health of young children across DPR Korea.
“The Convention guarantees every child, no matter who or where they are have the same rights to health and happiness. Child Health Day ensures that children across the country are healthy and grow to their full potential,” said Myo-Zin Nyunt, UNICEF Representative, DPR Korea who witnessed Child Health Day in Pyongwon County at South Pyongan Province together with the diplomatic community and development partners.