Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Executive Director of Unicef Dr Anthony Lake stressed the need paying urgent attention to children in urban slums.
“Living conditions of children in urban slums are much worse than those in most rural areas,” said he.
He said urbanisation is rapidly growing here and about three million children are living in urban slums, who need urgent attention.
Dr Lake, also UN under-secretary general for children, briefed reporters at a city hotel yesterday, on the concluding day of his three-day visit to Bangladesh.
Quoting a Unicef report, he said it has found that rural people are pushed out of their land mostly due to economic factors.
“They don’t come to major cities as they are attracted to it but due to lack of job or poverty and other factors, they migrate,” said the Unicef chief.
He said the flow of people to urban area would be reduced if the factors of migration are addressed. The implication is one can’t prevent urbanisation and one can’t deny providing service to slum areas where they are mostly located, he added.
Lauding Bangladesh’s achievement in substantially reducing the mortality rate of both mother and children, Dr Lake said Unicef assistance to materialise the goal will continue.
He also emphasised continuing further progress and bringing the benefits to the doorsteps of all people.
Dr Lake stressed the need for eliminating malnutrition problem in Bangladesh to ensure good health of children in a bid to building a prosperous nation.
He said length and weight of a baby depends on nutrition and it also directly affects the brain of a baby.
He said the nutrition has a tremendous impact on development and informed that about 40 percent of the children in Bangladesh are stunted and they can be cured by providing micro nutrient like Vitamin A. “An under-weight child can gain weight but stunting is irrecoverable,” he added.
Referring to his past visit to Bangladesh, he said that he witnessed tremendous changes in the country but what has not changed is people.
He said that he first came to Bangladesh in mid 70 when he worked for private peace corp and traveled to Dinajpur, Comilla, Dhaka and other areas usually by bus that time.
“They (people) are as vibrant and innovative as they were before,” he said while sharing his experience of his first visit and the present visit.
Unicef Representative in Bangladesh Dr Pascal Villeneuve, Deputy Representative Michel Saint-Lot and other senior officials were present.