UNICEF opens first of 227 mother-and-child health centres in tsunami-hit Indonesia
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has completed construction of the first of the 227 mother-and-child health centres it is building in Indonesia’s tsunami-devastated Aceh province and earthquake-hit Nias Island.
“Through these family health and development centres, mothers, children and babies will have immediate and full-time access to professional midwives, specialized infant health care and learning and development activities,” UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office in Aceh Edouard Beigbeder said.
“This is a brand new facility for the community. It’s not replacing something; it’s giving the community something they didn’t have before. Strengthening community-based health systems will have a long-lasting impact on child survival and development and will help facilitate Aceh and Nias’ recovery, rehabilitation and development.”
Indonesia was the worst-hit of the dozen Indian Ocean nations that were struck by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami on 26 December 2004, accounting for some two thirds of the death toll of more than 200,000, with over half a million others left homeless.
The new centres built by UNICEF combine community midwifery and basic preventive and curative services for women by providing a blend of essential services, such as antenatal and neonatal care, breastfeeding support, growth monitoring, regular immunization, parental education, micronutrient provision, basic health information and behavioural change promotion.
To ensure quality of service, UNICEF, in collaboration with Aceh provincial health authorities and partners, will roll out an inclusive training programme for healthcare providers. Most health centres will also have an Early Childhood Development Centre offering learning and stimulation activities for pre-school children aged three to six. Fifteen of them will also be equipped with a Child Protection Centre.
UNICEF has set aside $11 million for the construction of the centres, in addition to $90 million for the construction of more than 300 permanent schools, the first time UNICEF has taken on a construction role.