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Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNICEF are jointly conducting the Healthy Child Week
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, June 25, 2012. – From 25 to 30 June the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNICEF are jointly conducting the Healthy Child Week to improve health of children aged six months to five years.
As part of this week,supplementation of vitamin A, which has been provided by UNICEF for more than 2.6 million children aged six months to five years, will be heldacross the country. Besides, the Ministry of Health will conduct comprehensive activities to improve the health of women of fertility age, adolescent girls and children through field-trips of leading health care professionals to the regions.
In Karakalpakstanwithin the Healthy Child Week, UNICEF is supporting the piloting of integrated activities to deliver anenhanced package of health services for children aged six months to five years.As international experience shows, the delivery of integrated interventions to improve the health of children, which combinetreatment and prevention measures, increasestheir effectiveness.
Activities to be held within the week in Karakalpakstan include general medical examination of children, including anthropometry, counseling mothers on optimal nutrition, proper sanitation and hygiene practices.Supplementation with Vitamin A for children 6 months to 5 years old and anthelminthic drugs for childrenaged2-5 years will also be organized. During this period, pediatricians and patronage nurses will providecounseling in rural health points and in the families of children of the target age on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for children aged 0-6 months, proper complementary feeding startingfrom 6 months in accordance with international recommendations of WHO and UNICEF, as well as respond to families’questions about Vitamin A and the prevention of helminthiasis for the healthy development and growth of children. It is planned to cover more than 150,000 childrenaged 2-5 years in Karakalpakstan. They will receive prophylactic doses of anthelminthic drugs with Vitamin A, which represents the first combined medical intervention to be conducted in Uzbekistan.
Micronutrient deficiency is the cause of 80% of all human diseases. In view of the threatening and extremely negative consequences for human life the main focus isdirected to the prevention of deficiency of such micronutrients as iron, iodine and Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient for the immune system. According to WHO, every year 140 million pre-school children and 7 million pregnant women suffer from VitaminA deficiency (VAD), 4.4 million children and 6.2 million women suffer from xerophthalmia, and some 1.2 to 3 million children die as a result of VAD.
According to UNICEF, the minimum of 100 million children under the age of 5around the world suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a high level of which can lead to blindness and greatly increase the risk that a child could die from such diseases as measles, diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Providing childrenaged6-59 months withVitamin A is one of the most cost-effective child survival measures and may help prevent more than 300,000 child deaths annually.
Within the framework of State Programmes to improve maternal and child health, and implementation of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On prevention of micronutrient deficiency",the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan undertakeswidespread large-scale efforts to improve maternal and child health, which includes measures on vitamin A supplementation for children under the age of five, providing pregnant womenwith multivitamins, enhancing the knowledge and skills of the population on nutrition related issues.
Since 2002, the programme on prevention of Vitamin A deficiency is implemented in Uzbekistan with theassistance of UNICEF. The programme combines activities related toVitamin A supplementation with communication and advocacy work to improve the dietary habits of the population. To date, 17 rounds of Vitamin A supplementation were held, and in each round, 2.1 million children aged 6-60 months were reached out.
In the Republic of Karakalpakstan, projects have been initiated to improve people's knowledge on the nutrition of infants and children, and micronutrient supplementation (sprinkles) for children at the age of 6-24 months.
All these activities will reduce the prevalence of congenital diseases, stunting and other micronutrient deficiency related disorders and will cumulatively contribute to decreasing infant and maternal mortality.
UNICEF’s assistance in the organization of the Healthy ChildWeek includes the provision of more than 5.6 million doses of vitamin A at a dose of 100,000 ME for children 6 months to 1 year olds and at a dose of 200.000 ME for children under the age of 5, as well as 300 thousand tabletsof mebendazole. UNICEF also provided support to conducting activities aimed at increasing professional capacities of healthcare authorities at local levels and primary health care professionals, to the development and production of 200,000 copies of leaflets and booklets for families, and the production of television and radio public service announcements.