THE United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has set a new four-year target for Nigeria.
The target includes supporting Nigerian health care systems for children and women, promoting access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and increasing school enrolment.
Addressing journalists at a two-day media dialogue held in Kano between May 29 and May 30 on the ‘New Country Programme 2023-2027 and the States of Implementation of the Child Rights Law (2003) in States’, Communication Specialist for UNICEF Nigeria, Geoffrey Njoku, said the agency’s new programme aimed at working further to guarantee the rights of every child in Nigeria to survive, thrive, learn, and be protected and develop their full potentials.
Njoku noted that the programme targeted child’s freedom from poverty and ensuring they lived in a safe and sustainable climate and environment.
The ICIR reports that UNICEF’s objectives for health within the four years include health system strengthening, improved health leadership and governance, and affordability/universal health coverage.
According to Njoku, the new programme intends to increase vaccination coverage and reduce inequalities, boost vaccine logistics management, eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, and sustain Nigeria’s polio-free status.
By 2027, UNICEF wants over one million more children immunised and training of 15,000 additional community health workers. It seeks to ensure that 1,700 primary health care facilities (out of 3,476) in 14 states meet PHC minimum standards, and 25 health facilities have functional level two newborn units and state-level and national capacities built to prepare and respond to public health emergencies.
He added that the programme also hoped to achieve the following, “By 2027, 50 million children (80 per cent of children aged six to 59 months) receive vitamin A twice a year, 16.5 million children (50 per cent of children aged six to 23 months) are fed with a minimum diverse died in 19 states.
“12.5 million women (50 per cent of pregnant women) receive more than 90 iron-folic acid tablets or multiple micronutrient supplements in 19 states, and five million infants (50 per cent under six months exclusively breastfeed in 19 states.”
UNICEF also hopes that by 2027, ten million more children access formal or non-formal education, 4.8 million children access learning materials and 21 states scale up foundational literacy and numeracy.
The target includes making 22 states use integrated data systems for education planning and 12 states with improved adequacy, efficiency and equity in education finance.
On water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), the agency plans to make five million more people access to basic sanitation services, support another two million people with access to basic water supply services, and five hundred schools and 250 PHCs to have access to basic services.
Meanwhile, UNICEF revealed that it helped Nigeria to vaccinate 30 million in the past five years and supported vaccinating 58 million children against polio.
Presenting the report of its programmes from 2018 to 2022, Njoku said the UNICEF assisted 1.5 million girls to enrol in school, using a new evidence-based approach, and 1.3 million children living in conflict-affected areas to access formal and informal education.
The agency’s programme currently makes 20 million people live in communities certified free of open defecation, and 2.4 million people can now access life-saving water, sanitation and hygiene services, said Njoku.
Besides, thirty-four states had the Children’s Act, and he said 600,000 children aged six to 59 months with severe acute malnutrition were admitted for treatment.
UNICEF works in all of Nigeria’s geo-political zones, focusing on 20 states. Its programmes include health, nutrition, education, child protection, WASH and social policy.
In April, The ICIR reported UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presenting a new model for child literacy in Nigeria.
Another report by this organisation showed key data on early childhood education in Nigeria
In March, The ICIR reported UNICEF saying 78 million Nigerian children were at the highest risk of water-related threats.