Feature story

UNICEF Executive Director launches 'Facts for Life' in Lesotho

12 April 2010

A version of the story was first published at unicef.org

Ann M. Veneman visits clients at a children's clinical centre built by Baylor College of Medicine and Bristol-Myers Squibb in Maseru, Lesotho, where paediatric and family HIV care and treatment services are provided to young children and their caregivers.

During a recent visit to Lesotho, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman launched Facts for Life, a publication that delivers life-saving information to families and communities on how to prevent child and maternal deaths, diseases, injuries and violence.

“Education is key”, said Ms Veneman. “Through simple messages, Facts for Life aims to bring vital knowledge to parents and caregivers, who are the first line of defence in protecting children from illness and harm.”

Circulated worldwide

Some 15 million copies Facts for Life have reached billions of people since its first publication in 1989. It is a co-publication by UNICEF, WHO, WFP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS and the World Bank, and provides practical advice on pregnancy, childbirth, major childhood illnesses, child development, early learning, parenting, protection, care and support for children.

New chapter on child protection

The publication includes a chapter on managing HIV. It promotes early diagnosis in children, effective treatment and anti retroviral therapy when prescribed. Currently most HIV-positive children are given such treatment after the age of five, when it might be too late. Without treatment, half of all babies born with HIV will die before their second birthday.

“One in ten children in Lesotho does not survive to see his/her fifth birthday, most as a result of AIDS and preventable causes like pneumonia and diarrhea, exacerbated by malnutrition” said Ms. Veneman, “Facts for Life can help bridge the information gap that contributes to the needless death of millions of young children.”

The publication also contains a new chapter on child protection, which provides information on keeping children safe from violent and harmful behaviours and practices.

“Girls and boys must be protected from violence and abuse,” said the Executive Director. “Protecting children so that they can grow up in safe environments and reach their full potential can help break the cycle of poverty.”