From a March 1, 2019 press release,
NEW YORK, 1 March 2019 — UNICEF warned today that global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels, led by ten countries accounting for more than 74 per cent of the total increase, and several others that had previously been declared measles free.
Globally, 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease.
Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil saw the largest increases in measles cases from 2017 to 2018. In Ukraine alone, there were 35,120 cases of measles in 2018. According to the government, another 24,042 people were infected just in the first two months of 2019. In the Philippines so far this year, there have been 12,736 measles cases and 203 deaths, compared to 15,599 cases in the whole of 2018.
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Poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness, complacency and vaccine hesitancy in some cases have led to these outbreaks in both developed and developing countries. For example, in the United States, the number of measles cases increased six-fold between 2017 and 2018, reaching 791 cases. More recently, the U.S. has seen outbreaks in New York and Washington state.
“Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse,” said Fore. “Measles may be the disease, but, all too often, the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency. We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child.”
In February, UNICEF UK released a report on the current status of child labor across the globe. According to the UNICEF report, worldwide about 211 million children ages 5-14 work full-time. UNICEF estimates that 1 in 12 children work in an industry that is hazardous to their health.
Not surprisingly, the area with the highest rate of childhood labor is Africa, where 41 percent of children aged 5 to 14 work. That compares to just 21 percent of 5 to 14-year olds working in Asia and 17 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Due to the difference in total population however, 60 percent of all child laborers are working in Asia.
Worldwide UNICEF estimates that eight million children work in what the International Labor Organization terms “unconditional worst forms” of labor — six million bonded labor (essentially slaves); about 300,000 as soldiers in various armed conflicts around the world; and 1.8 million in the sex industry as prostitutes or the production of pornography.
Most child labor occurs in developing countries, but UNICEF estimates that about 2.4 million children 5 to 14-years old work full-time in the developed world. For example, in the United States anywhere between 300,000 to 800,000 children of Spanish-speaking immigrants are believed to work full-time in farm-related occupations. Similarly in Portugal UNICEF estimates that up to 47,000 school-aged children work full-time in industries such as shoe production rather than attend school.
UN urges action on child labor. The BBC, February 21, 2005.
End Child Exploitation: Child Labour Today. (PDF) UNICEF, 2005.
UNICEF released the 2005 edition of its annual The State of the World’s Children in which it noted that about one billion children worldwide are deprived of any semblance of a normal childhood, facing instead the effects, of poverty, war, and AIDS.
Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, UNICEF estimates that 1.9 billion lived in the developing world. One billion of those children lived in poverty and were deprived of at least one of seven amenities that UNICEF regard as basic rights — shelter, water, sanitation, schooling, information, health care and food.
UNICEF director Carol Bellamy said on releasing the report,
Too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood. When half the world’s children are growing up hungry and unhealthy, when schools have become targets and whole villages are being emptied by AIDS, we’ve failed to deliver on the promise of childhood.
The report notes that in 2003, 10.6 million children died before the age of five — the equivalent of all of the children in France, Germany, Greece and Italy.
One billion ‘denied a childhood’. The BBC, December 9, 2004.
The State of the World’s Children 2005. UNICEF, 2004.
An Indian court ruled in September that the United Nations International Children’s Fund and the United Nations were jointly responsible for the deaths of more than 30 children in November 2001 and ordered the two agencies to pay compensation to the families of the children.
The children died after being administer shots containing vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a major problem in India.
UNICEF maintains that the medicine it delivered were perfectly safe, but that poorly trained health care workers in the Indian state of Assam gave some children unsafe doses of the medication leading to the deaths.
The judge hearing the case did find that health care workers in Assam were partially responsible, but also cited UNICEF for changing the method of delivering the vitamin A from a traditional two-milliliter spoon dosage to a five milliliter dosage taken by cup.
UNICEF said that it brief the Assam government on the changes and the proper way to administer the vitamin A.
No word on whether or not UNICEF plans to appeal the judgment.
India child deaths blamed on UNICEF. Subir Bhaumik, The BBC, September 3, 2003.
India: 14 children dead after UNICEF vitamin programme. Pravda, November 19, 2001.
Mehr Khan, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Director, has issued an appeal for international aid to provide help to millions of women and children in North Korea.
Kahn noted that conditions in North Korea had improved somewhat thanks to previous international aid efforts. But, she continued,
However, there are still some 15 million vulnerable women and children who continue to need external assistance to survive and grow. For example, there are 70,000 children under 7 years old who need hospital-based treatment for malnutrition. The survey also showed that one-third of mothers are malnourished and anaemic.
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The two major causes of child deaths in DPRK are diarrhea and pneumonia. DPRK is a highly urbanized country and, in the early 1990s, people had good access to clean drinking water and sanitation. These facilities are now rapidly breaking down and are in desperate need of overhaul and repair. This gives rise to considerable concern for children’s health.
Since early this year, there has been a dramatic drop in levels of funding available for humanitarian assistance to DPRK. The WFP is in urgent need of funding to meet its food requirements. Some contributions have been authorized recently. But there is still a likely shortfall of 250,000 tonnes of food, which will occur mid-year, and for which there is nothing in the pipeline.
Of course, some nations who came through with aid during previous requests may be rethinking their decisions since North Korea seems to place more importance on restarting its nuclear weapons program that providing food and medicine to its people. Certainly North Korea has been a humanitarian nightmare for years and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But what possible incentive do donor nations have to underwrite North Korea’s aggressive military posture by taking over the nation’s responsibility to feed its people?
Lack of funding for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea endangering children. UNICEF, Press Release, March 11, 2003.