May 16th, 2016 11:27 EST
100 Babies Born Every Day in Areas Worst Hit by Ecuador Quake
The United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) today reported that on average, up to 100 babies are born every day in Esmeraldas and ManabÃ, the provinces worst hit by the Ecuador earthquake.
In a region where one in five children suffers from diarrhoea and chronic malnutrition, it is essential to provide these babies with the basic needs to survive and thrive, " said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador, in a press release.
The earthquake, which hit the country on 16 April, killed 660 people, destroyed water systems and affected 33 health centres " half of which are not operational. The earthquake also damaged or destroyed some 560 schools and close to 10,000 buildings.
According to UNICEF, an immediate response led by the Government is allowing 75 per cent of children to return to school and providing an integrated response to over 30,000 people living in official shelters, including basic assistance, medical and psychological support. With help from UNICEF, access to safe water was restored in Jama and Pedernales, the two worst hit towns by the earthquake.
However, one month on, thousands more people are staying in informal shelters which lack basic services, and 120,000 children are in urgent need of temporary educational spaces.
UNICEF announced it is working with the Government and other partners to assist the most vulnerable populations by undertaking the following actions:
- With the Ministry of Education, installing temporary learning spaces for 20,000 children and distributing 750 school-in-a-box kits to benefit 60,000 children. The first temporary learning spaces are already open in Pedernales and Jama with capacity to receive 5,600 children, and additional spaces are now being installed in Pedernales, Jama, Matal, Chorerra and Muisne.
- With the National Water Authority and local municipalities, setting up water and sanitation services in shelters for displaced persons and temporary schools, and providing safe water and hygiene services in areas where the water grid has been damaged.
- With the Ministry of Social Inclusion, providing psychosocial support and promoting sports and cultural activities for children and adolescents to contribute to their emotional recovery.
- Supporting the Ministry of Health to establish protocols for acute malnutrition screening; develop community messaging for the prevention of vector-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya; provide micronutrients and vitamin A for nutrition, zinc and oral rehydration salts for diarrhoea; provide tents to replace damaged health facilities; and provide temporary health posts close to shelters. Baby friendly spaces will also be set up in Pedernales, Jama and Muise.
However, UNICEF warned that funding for this assistance remains extremely low. The agency alone will need $15 million to meet the needs of 250,000 children until mid-July. So far, it has received only 15 per cent of this amount.
If the donor community does not step up its support, we will be failing thousands of children, " Mr. Grant said.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia