First visit to Sliven region of the UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria, Dr. Jane Muita

08.08.2018 07:00

© UNICEF Bulgaria/2018

During her three-day visit Dr. Jane Muita, a month after her taking office, held a number of meetings with representatives of the Sliven Regional Administration, Kotel Municipality, Sliven Municipality, the Sliven Bar Association, the Regional Health Inspectorate, the Regional Centre for Inclusive Education Process Support, the Regional Department of Education in Sliven. The aim of the meetings was to talk with representatives of different institutions and with experts, on  the implementation of the new country  programme  developed by the UN Children’s Fund for Bulgaria and the specific actions for Sliven Region. 

Sliven is one of the priority regions UNICEF works in jointly with the Government of Bulgaria in order to improve the indicators of children’s well-being

It is also covered by the new country programme for 2018 – 2022. The work of the UN Children’s Fund in the region started in 2012 when a Memorandum of Cooperation at municipal level was signed for the implementation of joint activities in support of children and families at risk. Currently,  with UNICEF’s support, a number of model centres and services have been established in the region, including the Centre for Maternal and Child Health, the Centre for Support of Children and Families, a range of services for children in conflict with the law “Children and Youth Zone” and  a “Blue Room” for child-friendly hearing of child Victims of crime.

A visit to the Centre for Maternal and Child Health, set up under a UNICEF project, was also part of Dr. Muita’s programme

The Centre provides services intended for the needs of pregnant women and families with children of up to 3 years of age. The Centre was launched in 2014 and has developed a community support service, in the framework of which trained “visiting Nurses” make regular home visits to pregnant women and families with infants. The service aims to provide accessible support tailored to the needs of the child and the family so that they become more sensitive to the needs of their children, ensure safe and stimulating environment for child development, good nutrition and options for early learning, and build a strong emotional bond and communication with them. As of 2017, the community support service had covered over 4,800 children and the number of total visits (home, outside home, accompaniment) for the period exceeded 10,000.

“It is not only health support that the families you take care of need. They face many other challenges stemming from severe poverty, , misconceptions, bad living conditions, lack of health insurance. In order to tackle them, we need to develop innovative models and tailor our work to the families’ individual needs. You have been dealing amazingly well with this task and I would like to thank you for this”

Dr. Muita commented during her meeting with the community nurses from Sliven region. She also noted that, in order to provide full support to the families in need, long-term efforts should be developed and implemented  within a broader framework covering their multiple vulnerabilities  and involving support on multiple levels.

The Representative of the UN Children’s Fund also met with the employees of the “Elitsa” kindergarten in Sliven, part of the “Together from the Kindergarten” project

It aims to support the establishment of an inclusive and supportive environment in kindergartens to ensure the full development of each child with a focus on children with special needs. The model includes transformation of the physical environment in child care establishments, development of new skills among pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff, provision of specialised support by a psychologist, a speech therapist, a teacher assistant and a resource teacher in accordance with the needs of the kindergarten.  The model also improves the  communication with and involvement of the parents in the work with their children. In the period January 2016 – December 2017, the initiative, which covered 35 kindergartens in the regions of Sofia, Montana, Shumen and Sliven, provided daily access to a speech therapist and a psychologist to 4,230 girls and boys, and 473 of these have started activities for intensive support from specialists.

The team of the “Elitsa” kindergarten said that the work on the project was extremely useful for them and they recognised the need for available qualified specialists to support the work with children with special needs and their parents. Dr. Muita, who is a paediatrician by backgound, expressed her view of the need to develop integrated services allowing the children with special needs to grow together with their peers, rather than in separate institutions. In addition, she shared that UNICEF had been consistently working with governments around the world to build systems that ensures adequate support to children with special needs – from their prenatal period until adulthood.

“Interventions at an early age are essential. During this period, it is possible to make assessment and take adequate measures where needed. These measures not only reduce further deteorioration but many even reverse some of the conditions enabling improved well-being and unlocking opportunities to reach their higher potential."

At the end of her visit, the Representative of the UN Children’s Fund stated that, within her five-year term of office, the organisation will continue to develop interventions for adolescents and for early childhood development. She added that the programme also includes interventions in education, child protection and access of children to justice and that the aim of her team was to ensure national coverage of all successfully tested models with a focus on sustainability  and results and to contribute to  improving the  quality of services provided.

About UNICEF 
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information:
Denitza Kamenova 
Communication Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria 
Mobile: (+359) 882 344 553 
Email: dkamenova@unicef.org

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