Progress of Children in Eritrea: Some Salient Points

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  • The first international convention ratified by the Government of the State of Eritrea was the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It shows the priority it accords to the welfare of its youngest citizens.
  • Eritrea has made  commendable progress in achieving MDG 4 to reduce infant mortality, and MDG 5 to reduce maternal mortality.
  • The under-five mortality rate (MDG 4) was reduced from 151 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 47 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015.
  • The maternal mortality rate (MDG 5) fell from 1,700 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990, to 352 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015, surpassing the MDG 5 Target of 425 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Eritrea ranks highest in the region in antenatal care attendance at 95 per cent, and coverage of health services and interventions for maternal and child health is high.
  • More than 90 per cent of children are breastfed within one-hour after birth, and exclusive breastfeeding is at 69 per cent. This means Eritrea falls among the good performers in terms of breastfeeding rates globally.
  • Eritrea’s overall immunisation coverage of infants is above 95 per cent at the national level.
  • Eritrea has maintained a polio-free status for many years now.
  • Eritrea’s national immunisation programme has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF as one of the best in Africa, winning the Ministry of Health a number of international awards.
  • In 2017, the Ministry of Education and partners completed a very important study on “Breaking the Silence”, which highlights the problems faced by adolescent girls during menstruation. This resulted in the menstrual hygiene management programme, which is being scaled up nationwide.
  • Menstrual hygiene management classes and provision of menstrual hygiene materials in schools, encourages adolescent girls to attend school with dignity. These efforts will contribute to retention rates of girls in school, and accelerate their transition to secondary education.
  • To ensure more access to quaality basic education for all children, the Government’s complementary elementary education programme provides elementary education over a three-year course for children aged 9-14- years old, many of whom have never attended school before.
  • The child protection and social protection programme by the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare supports vulnerable children and poor female-headed households with cash stipends.
  • Since its implementation in 2009, the Donkey for School programme for children with disabilities has enabled over 1,500 children with disabilities to attend school.
  • In 2009, the Government and partners initiated the community-led total sanitation programme. To date, the programme has enabled 910 out of 2625 villages in Eritrea to become open defecation free.
  • Eritrea is gaining steadily on eliminating all harmful practices such as child, early, and forced marriage and FGM.
  • The Government outlawed FGM in 2007, and the National Union of Eritrean Women and partners have been making steady progress in reducing this nationwide.