Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The effects of an unregulated fast food industry on nutrition in Asia

10-month old Khaizer Jay Alagaban is fed by her mother in the Bicol region of the Philippines. The family receives nutrition counselling and infant and young child feeding support through a UNICEF and EU nutrition security programme.
© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1570/Ferguson

We’ve all seen the impact of fast food on children’s weight and health in the UK and US. But now this man-made epidemic is spreading to Asia, where undernutrition is still rampant. Shockingly, in some countries there are equal numbers of children under five who are overweight and suffering from acute undernutrition. Urgent action is needed to address both of these issues.

Non-communicable diseases represent an increasing threat to human health and socioeconomic development. Diabetes, heart diseases, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases cause an estimated 35 million deaths each year, 80 percent of which occur in low- and middle income countries (WHO 2010). The majority of these deaths could be prevented.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

UNICEF’s new Child Protection expert on ending violence against children

Angel (name changed), 16, was abused when she worked as a domestic servant. She now lives in a shelter in Zamboanga City, Philippines, where she receives counselling and help with her education from social workers. © UNICEF/2011/Pirozzi
Lena Nguyen interviews Stephen Blight, UNICEF’s new Regional Adviser for Children Protection for East Asia and Pacific

Violence against children happens everywhere. In poor and rich countries, in children’s homes, schools, and in their communities. “Children are forced to navigate a virtual minefield of violence, as they progress from infancy through their adolescent years” says Stephen Blight, UNICEF Regional Adviser for Child Protection in East Asia and Pacific. But much of violence against children happens behind closed doors. UNICEF’s global campaign “#ENDviolence” against children calls on us all to make this invisible violence visible.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Humanitarian heroes of the 21st century

Former UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Tomoo Hozumi helps unload supplies as he arrives in the typhoon hit Tacloban. © UNICEF/PFPG2013P-0417/Maitem
This week, on 19 August, we celebrate World Humanitarian Day. The day commemorates our UN colleagues who died in a brutal attack on the UN offices in Baghdad in 2003. It also marks the efforts of other humanitarian workers who have risked their lives – and in some case lost them – in an effort bring relief and assistance to people whose lives are thrown into turmoil because of man-made conflicts and natural disasters. Every year, disasters cause immense suffering to millions of people, and those who suffer most tend to be the poorest, the most marginalized and the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First impressions of education in East Asia and the Pacific

A girl writes on the blackboard in her classroom in Ethiopia. The facilities
here are much more basic than in most schools in Asia-Pacific
© UNICEF/ETHA_2014_00174/Ose
A new chapter opened in my career with UNICEF when I arrived in Bangkok in April 2014 to take up the post of Regional Education Adviser for East Asia and the Pacific. I had previously worked on education for UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria. Prior to UNICEF, I worked at the Institute of Education in London and for the British Government.

One key reason why I work for UNICEF is my passion for human rights and equity. It really hurts me to see such gross inequalities in the world and so many children being denied the opportunity for a better life. Having the opportunity to help address their needs through what I spend most of my life doing – work – is truly a privilege. I also love working for an agency that focuses on the whole child. Education is critical to all other areas of development, including socio-economic, health, social cohesion, participation and child protection.

Monday, August 4, 2014

International AIDS Conference: Stepping up the Pace for Adolescents

UNICEF calls for ending the HIV epidemic among adolescents and for empowering them to fight stigma and discrimination © UNICEF/2006/Pirozzi
Ten years after Nelson Mandela called for a strong will to fight AIDS, his words still rang loud and clear in my ears as I travelled to Melbourne for the 20th International AIDS Conference. Over 15,000 participants from nearly 200 countries, representing a diversity of voices, came together under the theme “Stepping up the Pace.” And Mandela’s “Everything seems impossible until it gets done,” resonates.

Amidst the growing hope of ending AIDS, UNICEF called for stepping up the pace for adolescents who are the only group among whom the number of AIDS-related deaths are rising. Later this year, UNICEF and UNAIDS will launch a global initiative, All In, dedicated to end the HIV epidemic in adolescents.