UNICEF recommends childfriendly laws, policies

MANILAThe United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday recommended a range of measures to address deprivations and vulnerabilities that prevent children from accessing their rights.

These include creating childfriendly laws and policies that are effectively implemented; increasing government spending for quality social services; improving gathering and use of data on vulnerable groups of children; and conducting more research on the implications of social norms on children's rights and promoting positive social norms.

During the launch of the situation analysis of children in the Philippines, summary report based on data gathered in 2017 with focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of children, the government and the UNICEF was presented with the following findings:

Some 31 percent of children live below the basic needs poverty line, with a much higher figure (63 percent) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM);

Although the Philippines has reduced the overall child mortality rates between 1990 and 2015, underfive mortality is still high in ARMM at the rate of 55 per 1,000 live births, a long way still from the national targets of 15 for infants and 22 for children under five;

Poor nutrition in very young children is a major problem when compared to the regional average of 11 percent in East Asia and the Pacific; 33 percent of children under five are stunted or too short for their age; and 21 percent are underweight. Significantly, more children in ARMM are stunted at 45 percent;

The Philippines is close to universal access to safe drinking water (90 percent in 2015). Those without access belong to the poorest households with only 80 percent having basic drinking water, compared to 99 percent of the wealthiest households. Only 62 percent of people in ARMM have access;

Access to education is encouraging, yet an estimated 2.85 million children aged 515 remain out of school. As of 2015, only 91 percent were enrolled in primary school, and 68 percent in secondary. ARMM reported substantially lower rates at 75 percent and 29 percent, respectively;

Children in the Philippines, regardless of socioeconomic status, experience high levels of violence: 2 in 3 are physically and psychologically abused. Cyberviolence has emerged as a serious threat with the Philippines becoming a source, transit and destination country for commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking; and

The Philippines also failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals in these areas by the target year of 2015.

The situation analysis will guide the Philippines to address key issues, such as how to channel the dividends of economic growth to every Filipino child, especially the one in three living in poverty and those who fall off the radar for living in remote, marginalized communities or due to their socioeconomic, religious, ethnic identity, UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said.

She said the report offers a framework for a wide range of issues affecting children, so we are able to support the government to improve the systems and services to reach children in need.

Meanwhile, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Carlo Bernardo Abad Santos congratulated UNICEF for the initiative and support in putting together the situation analysis.

The spirit of partnership, especially with UNICEF, is invaluable in ensuring (an) enabling environment for the children to achieve their full potential, Abad Santos said.

He expressed hope that the report would serve as a guide to address the issues and concerns faced by children.

The NEDA was UNICEF's key partner in holding the research along with a large number of line departments.

The launch of the situation analysis report was done in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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