The Assam Legislative Assembly signed a Letter of Understanding (LoU) with UNICEF Assam in Guwahati on July 29, to work together on issues related to children in the state.
The LoU was signed by Assam Legislative Assembly Principal Secretary Mrigendra Kumar Deka and UNICEF Assam Officer-in-Charge Sweta Patnaik, in the presence of Assam Legislative Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami.
Data shared by UNICEF shows that as many as 87 infants and 96 children under the age of 5 die in Assam daily. About 36 per cent children in the state are malnourished, which is due to a number of reasons such as mothers not receiving adequate diet during pregnancy and during lactation in the first 1,000 days.
Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, while delivering keynote address, said, “Around 41 per cent of Assam’s population comprises of children. Legislators can create a real and lasting change for children and set strong policy directions and debates. Assam Legislative Assembly will take up issues of children and work together for the improvement of Sustainable Developmental Goals in Assam.”
Goswami, also welcomed the UNICEF’s support in addressing key programming priorities, said, “The sustainable development goals which are related to women and children will be the purview for the committee for the welfare of women and children.”
MLA Numal Momin, in his opening remarks, said, “It is the responsibility of government to provide healthcare for all sections of people equally. Only 1.2 per cent of total GDP is used for the investment in health sector. Underage marriages should be controlled.”
Momin also said that proper healthcare and food needs to be given so that every mother delivers healthy child. Health is a fundamental right for every citizen.
“Budget allocation has to increase to enable the successful implementation of programmes for children in Assam. Legislators need to regularly raise issues of children in legislative and pursue government to resolve these issues,” said Momin.
Sweta Patnaik, Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Assam said that children’s wellbeing was linked to every aspect of the state’s development, and that many SDGs would go unrealized if issues related to children’s health, nutrition and survival were not addressed.
Roselina Tirkey, MLA and Chairperson Committee for the Welfare of Women and Children, while highlighting the role of the committee, said, “We are committed to improve the status of women and children in the state. As part of this partnership, we will hold briefing sessions on priority issues, discuss best practices that can be replicated at the constituency level, and work with other state actors to accelerate achievement of the sustainable development goals for Assam.”