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UNICEF supports good parenting practices in Ukraine. Good Parenting – Healthy & Happy Child

A girl playing developing games in UNICEF corner during World Health Day in Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv, 19 April 2010 – In observing World Health Day in Ukraine, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stresses the need to support good parenting practices in Ukraine.
Children in Ukraine face a number of challenges related to their health and development, researches has shown.

There is a low level of awareness of proper child nutrition among parents in Ukraine. Yet proper nutrition is essential for physical and intellectual health. It includes exclusive breastfeeding during first six months, adequate nutrition after six months and the prevention of deficiencies in iodine, iron and other micronutrients. Complications following iodine deficiency can lead to poor health and development problems.
Immunization, a life-saving practice that prevents of infectious diseases, has become unpopular in Ukraine due to a lack of knowledge about its effectiveness and incorrect myths about side effects. Such trends expose more children to the risk of death or complications following infectious disease.

In addition, one of the reasons behind the increasing number of HIV infection among youth is parents’ neglect of adolescence problems and low awareness of the HIV-related issues. 

UNICEF Representative Yukie Mokuo with her daughter Pari during the World Health Day. Kyiv, Ukraine

“Parents’ knowledge and practice in early child development, proper nutrition, immunization and healthy lifestyle are vital for the health and prosperity of their children. We, UNICEF, will continue to provide all the necessary information to parents so that all children in Ukraine can grow up healthy and happy, said UNICEF Representative Yukie Mokuo, summarising UNICEF activities during World Health Day. 

To observe World Health Day, UNICEF conducted a full day interactive workshop on good parenting where parents were provided with information, consultation and advice on following issues: 

  1. Healthy child development and high IQ with proper nutrition.
    ISSUE: Only one-third of children in Ukraine are exclusively breastfed during their first six months. Over 40 per cent of parents do not know that children only need breastmilk in these first six months. Some 60 per cent of parents incorrectly name foods that should be included in a child’s diet after six months. Because of improper nutrition, children may have iron deficiency anaemia that will influence their physical, intellectual and psycho-social development.
    Some 30 per cent of women do not know about the need to prevent iodine deficiency during pregnancy. Miscarriage and stillbirths can be caused by iodine deficiency during pregnancy, but about 60 per cent of families do not know this fact. Almost eight in 10 children born from mothers with iodine deficiency are suffering from prenatal encelopathy. Almost 40 per cent have anaemia and the same number have intrauterine infection, which can lead to a preterm birth. 
    Iodine deficiency in school-aged children influences their IQ. It has been shown that IQ scores of children with iodine deficiency are 10 points lower (on the R. Kettler IQ test) than children who do not suffer of low iodine. A lessening of the intellect affects every aspect of a child’s life.
  2. Protection against infectious diseases and immunizations.
    ISSUE: Every fourth day, one child dies in Ukraine because of an infectious disease.  Such diseases remain one of the five major causes of death in children under the age of one in Ukraine. Every ninth child – which means over one million of children aged 14 or under -- has experienced an infectious disease (during the period from 2004 to 2008). Because of complications related to the disease, some deaths were reported during that period. Yet only about 32 per cent of parents are confident in the need for and safety of vaccination. Because of the fear of adverse events following immunization, some parents have refused to vaccinate their children. Unvaccinated children risk contracting serious diseases such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, tetanus, hepatitis B, polio.
  3. Early child development and the role of father. 
    ISSUE: In Ukraine an average father gives only four minutes to his child daily. Some 80 per cent of parents think that children are too young to play with them in development games. Only half of parents play and read books with their children every day. The same number of parents is unaware of the main indicators of child development. According to many international studies on child development, the psychological and emotional health and future success of a child depend on the care and attention that parents are giving.  
  4. Competent parenting – communication in the family.
    ISSUE: Some 23 per cent of school aged boys and 12 per cent of school aged girls are everyday tobacco smokers. More than eight in 10 young people in Ukraine consume alcoholic drinks . Only 22 per cent correctly identify the ways that HIV is transmitted. Illicit drug use is also an issue. About 14 per cent of school-aged children have tried marijuana at least once. Some four per cent have tried tranquillizer or opiates and about three per cent have inhaled drugs. Alcohol consumption and access to drugs among school-aged children is increasing every year. In order to return to a healthy life, such children need additional attention and care from their parents. When parents are able to communication with their teenagers, actively participate in family life and take a proactive approach to parenting, it can prevent risky behaviour and drug use.

For more information, please contact:

Anna Sukhodolska, UNICEF Ukraine
Tel.: 044 230 25 14; 050 357 87 58
email: ,

For the editor:
World Health Day was initiated by the World Health Organization and has taken place every year since 1950. This year’s theme is urbanisation and health: “1000 cities – 1000 lives.” To celebrate this day, many cities around the world are opening their streets to conduct mass events related to health for their citizens. The goal is to raise awareness among the population on health issues and prevention. 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in over 190 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.
Key areas of UNICEF work in Ukraine are:

  • Protection of children and women from HIV infection through extension of access to medical-social services.
  • Child protection from violence and abandonment.
  • Support for child health, development, immunization, breastfeeding and the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders. 
  • Support for effective policy and monitoring systems of child rights.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. More information about UNICEF activities in Ukraine is at:  


  1. Report ‘The level of parents’ knowledge about children health and development on the territories affected by Chernobyl in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia’. Center of social expertise NAS Ukraine, 2008.  
  2. Research ‘MOST-AT-RISK ADOLESCENTS: the evidence base for strengthening the HIV response in Ukraine’. 2009.
  3. Research ‘European School survey project on alcohol and other drugs (ESPAD). 2009.



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