A story of survival and declining child mortality rates

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Zakir Hossain, 5 months old, is held by his parents at their home in Chokoria, Cox’s Bazar on September 2, 2013.

He was born in a private hospital in Chokoria and diagnosed with pneumonia and advised to obtain better treatment. Zakir’s parents sought help at the SCANU unit, where he was looked after for 22 days without having to make any payments.

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Youth vs MPs: As it happened

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By Ben Guerin, Victoria University student (@bjhguerin)

It’s not often young people are able to debate with elected representatives of their country the issues that directly affect them. But this is what happened at the UNICEF NZ Youth vs MPs Election debate on July 22.

The debate saw six young people and six members of Parliament in two separate moots. Each moot addressed a different topic, the first “New Zealand is a great place to be a child”, the second “aid is the best way to combat global poverty”.

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Helping children in crisis – a record month for UNICEF

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At the end of this week we will mark a major milestone – over 1,000 metric tonnes (MT) of life-saving supplies will have been sent to Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, South Sudan and *Syria+ this month.

That’s enough to fill nineteen jumbo jets – and a record for the amount of emergency cargo going to multiple countries in 31 days. It has basically been a 24-7 operation for UNICEF’s supply community, with the departures and arrivals of airplanes spanning all hours of the day and night.

Early Tuesday, we sent a second shipment of Ebola supplies to Monrovia, Liberia, from our headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The supplies have included emergency food rations, medicines, emergency health kits, water supplies, vaccines, hygiene kits, nutrition products, early childhood development and recreation kits for psycho-social care, tents for shelter and basic services, chlorine and supplies for health workers for Ebola control.

Today’s shipment is one of the remaining six that will be sent before the end of the month to reach children in countries facing crises. Once these six go out, they will bring the total sent by air in August to 49.

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South Sudan – portrait of a humanitarian hero

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Dr Lyimo talks with Nyakuoch Keat, who had carried her nine-month-old son Bhan Ruei to seek medical help for him in Kiech Kuon, South Sudan.

Dr Lyimo talks with Nyakuoch Keat, who had carried her nine-month-old son Bhan Ruei to seek medical help for him in Kiech Kuon, South Sudan.

Nyakuoch Keat’s nine-month-old son Bhan had been running a fever for days and was listless and unresponsive to his mother’s attempts to cheer him up. His condition worsened, to the point where he was not holding down any food and even seemed to lose consciousness at times. There appeared to be very few options for Bhan and Nyakuoch, who live in South Sudan in a cluster of mud-and-thatch huts far removed from health services even when there is no war, which there is now. The nearest doctor was in the village of Kiech Kuon, a two hour walk away across flooded fields and swamps. But since fighting broke out in December 2013, the clinic there has been closed, with staff fleeing the conflict and government supplies of medicines, equipment and salaries drying up.

Donate to our urgent appeal for children in South Sudan

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Ebola in Sierra Leone – the joy of survivors

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By Jo Dunlop, UNICEF consultant based in Sierra Leone

I travelled upcountry last week to one of the worst affected areas of Sierra Leone – Kenema. When you arrive in the town, there’s a feeling that Ebola has settled in with no plans to move any time soon. Chlorine buckets sit outside most restaurants for people to wash their hands; Ebola information posters are plastered on buildings; crackly radios are loudly broadcasting conversations about Ebola; people are talking about ‘dis Ebola bisnis’ relentlessly on the street; and handshaking has been replaced by a brush of the elbows.

Spending a few days around people who have been tragically affected by this disease was an unforgettably sad experience. I was however heartened by meeting some of the lucky people who are surviving Ebola.

Sierra Leone is now recording the highest number of new cases each week of all the West African countries affected, including Guinea and Liberia. What makes this outbreak unique though, is the increasing number of survivors – growing gradually to a current total of 143 people across Sierra Leone from the almost 500 people who have contracted it.

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Vandy Jawad on the day he left the Ebola treatment centre.

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