Friday, September 19, 2014

Tackling the hidden issue of adolescent pregnancy in Asia-Pacific

In the Philippines, Efrin has 2 children and is 7 months pregnant with a third
© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1555/Ferguson 
Adolescent pregnancy is a hidden issue that very few want to talk about in public. A significant number of adolescents in the East Asia and Pacific region are sexually active. Every year, many adolescent girls become pregnant without intending to, changing the course of their lives in unforeseen ways.

In some cultures, these issues are uncomfortable for families and public figures to confront and address openly. This results in the problem being ignored or poorly addressed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Keeping our promise to the youngest children in Asia-Pacific

By Basil Rodriques, Regional Adviser on Child Survival and Development, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific

Infants in a hospital in Tacloban, Philippines, in 2013. Typhoon Haiyan
increased the risk of newborn death as many health facilities were damaged
© UNICEF/PFPG2013V-0197/Maitem
In 2000, the world made a promise to reduce deaths among children under-five by two thirds by 2015, compared to 1990, the benchmark year for the Millennium Development Goals. With less than 500 days left until the deadline, great progress has been made, but the world still risks breaking one of the most profound promises ever made to children.

In East Asia and the Pacific, progress is evident at the regional level with very impressive reductions in child mortality compared to 1990. However, the level and breadth of success is by no means uniform, particularly when we look at the sub-national-level and disparities within countries come to light. The major killers remain pneumonia and diarrhoea, along with more pronounced numbers in the first month after birth.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Giving voice to marginalized youth through media

Soulivong Sengsoulay is teaching children in Luang Prabang the importance of washing hands by using a mix of music, games and dance.
© Soulivong Sengsoulay
At last week’s Asia-Pacific Youth Training on Media and Civic Participation, I spoke about UNICEF-supported youth radio initiative, called ‘Open Hearts Open Airwaves’, in Luang Prabang province in northern Laos. I was pleasantly surprised when afterwards, Soulivong, one of the participants, introduced himself to me as one of the radio team members from that initiative.

Soulivong, a 20 year-old college student, has been a dedicated youth radio presenter, reporter and peer educator for the past seven years. Open Hearts Open Airwaves radio program was initiated in 2004. The program teaches young people the life skills to help them address various challenges in their lives, and encourages them to promote a love for learning and participate in social change.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Youth media for a peaceful society

Heng Sokchannaroath from Cambodia became interested in media and peace building by volunteering as a radio presenter.
© UNICEF EAPRO/2014/Hyunjeong Lee
Last week, some 90 young people aged 17 to 24 attended the Asia-Pacific Youth Training on Media and Civic Participation, organized by UNESCO Jakarta in Bali, Indonesia. During the intensive, five-day training, participants shared their experiences in promoting peace and developed action plans to encourage youth participation and civic engagement through traditional and new media. 

At the training, I met Heng, from Cambodia, who works as coordinator of the Peace building and Leadership Exchange program for Cambodian and Vietnamese university students. She became interested in media, communications and peace building by volunteering as a peer educator and a radio presenter when she was a high school student.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A message from Samoa: "I'm in beautiful Samoa. It's terrifying."

The Pacific islands are threatened by climate change. Switching to clean energy can give their children's future back.
© UNICEF/2006/Pirozzi
A message from Samoa by Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

I'm in beautiful Samoa. It's terrifying

Greetings from Samoa in the Pacific, the gracious host of a major global conference of small island states. To visit this beautiful nation is wonderful, but also terrifying. We, the big consumers of coal, oil and gas around the world, thousands of miles away from Samoa, are stealing the future from this astonishing country and people. The damage we are doing can be seen here and, even more, on other Pacific islands, right now. The children of the Pacific in particular are facing a precarious outlook for their lives.