In a show of appreciation and solidarity, the Northern Regional Minister, Hon. Shani Alhassan Shaibu, extended his gratitude to UNICEF for their significant contributions to sustainable development for children and families in the Northern Region.
The commendation came during a courtesy visit by the newly appointed UNICEF Representative for Ghana, Mr. Osama Makkawi Khogali, to the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC) on Monday, October 9, 2023.
The meeting had several key objectives, including introducing the new UNICEF Representative for Ghana to the Hon. Northern Region Minister, reaffirming UNICEF’s partnership with the region, and celebrating achievements made in child development in the Northern Region.
Representatives from various departments directly working with UNICEF gathered at the meeting to assess the impact of activities, projects, and programs in critical areas such as health, education, child protection, water and sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition.
Hon. Shani Alhassan Shaibu emphasized the pivotal role of education in achieving holistic development, including improvements in sanitation, health, hygiene, and child protection. He appealed to UNICEF to expand its support for education, as it is essential for realizing the organization’s overarching goals in the Northern Region.
The Chief Director/RCD, Alhaji Alhassan Issahaku, lauded UNICEF for their invaluable support in various aspects of development, including initiatives to promote Open Defecation Free (ODF) practices, COVID-19 response, and collaboration on Social Protection programs. Notably, he highlighted that with UNICEF’s support, the ODF rate in the region had increased from a lowly 14% six years ago to a significant 61%.
He expressed satisfaction with the UNICEF team’s efforts at the regional level, led by Bhanu Pathak, in coordinating and establishing a fruitful working relationship with the NRCC, all in pursuit of UNICEF’s objectives.
Mr. Osama Makkawi Khogali, the newly appointed UNICEF Representative for Ghana, commended the Northern region for its unwavering commitment to sustainable development for children and families. He expressed gratitude to the Regional Minister and the departments collaborating directly with UNICEF, acknowledging their willingness to engage in the implementation of successful programs spanning water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, education, child protection, and COVID-19 prevention protocols.
Mr. Khogali highlighted some of UNICEF’s achievements, including the support for the construction of a 50-bed capacity newborn care unit at Tamale West Hospital Maternal and the expansion of the Newborn Quality of Care initiative to four hospitals in the Northern Region. Additionally, UNICEF has been working with the government to combat high rates of malnutrition, especially among children under the age of 5.
Over the past decade, UNICEF has played a pivotal role in providing safe water to over 400,000 people, including about 100,000 children, in the Northern Region. This support significantly contributed to the interruption of Guinea Worm Disease transmission and ultimately led to the disease’s eradication in Ghana in 2013.
UNICEF continues to collaborate with the government to implement evidence-based interventions, such as Infant and Young Child Feeding, Micronutrient powders, iron folate supplementation, the Nutrition Friendly School Initiative, and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. They have also provided supplies for early detection, benefiting over 235,000 children under the age of five and over 90,000 adolescent girls with Iron Folic Acid Supplementation in the first half of 2023.
The partnership between UNICEF and the Northern Region remains a driving force in the quest for sustainable development and the well-being of children and families in the region. This collaboration demonstrates the shared commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable, leaving a positive and lasting impact on the Northern Region of Ghana.