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06 March 2017, 19:57

Initiative to prevent children injuries begins in Vitebsk as part of EU-UN project

VITEBSK, 6 March (BelTA) – An initiative to prevent children injuries has begun in Vitebsk as part of an EU-UN project, BelTA learned from Olga Bizikova, the coordinator of the local initiative, Chairwoman of the Vitebsk District Organization of the Belarusian Society of the Red Cross.

The Vitebsk Oblast Organization of the Belarusian Society of the Red Cross and partnering organizations, which include the Vitebsk Oblast Clinical Center for Psychiatry and Narcology, the Vitebsk Oblast Clinical Center for Children, and the Healthcare Office of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee, have begun the active phase of the local initiative Together Against Children Injuries. The initiative is part of the EU-UN project meant to prevent non-infectious diseases, promote a healthy lifestyle and support the modernization of the national healthcare system in Belarus. The EU-UN project is dubbed as Belmed. The main goal of the project is to reduce the injury rate among disadvantaged society groups: children from troubled families where adults abuse alcohol and drugs and where children start using those substances themselves. The initiative will get slightly more than €57,000 in funding.

The initiative has been brought about by a disturbingly large number of injuries in children in Vitebsk in the last five years. Most of them were attributed to the lack of proper oversight, particularly in troubled families. “Although a lot of work is being done in the city to prevent children from getting injured, a more comprehensive approach is required to influence children and adults, who are doing a poor job at parenting. It is particularly necessary when the Internet and other mass media widely advertise extreme kinds of sport and the kinds of entertainment that can cause injuries. Our initiative will take cooperation of an entire group of interested government agencies and public organizations to the next level. It will be new experience. The first educational seminars, training sessions, and roundtable sessions will begin in March,” explained Olga Bizikova.

The initiative will target school-age children, their parents and other relatives. The specialists that will work with the target group will be trained using new interactive methods and information technologies. Representatives of target groups with different levels of vulnerability (children, women, the elderly) are expected to become volunteers, who will contribute to the resolution of their problems together with the specialists. New training programs based on peer education will be employed. Groups for self-help and mutual assistance for family members in the social risk category will be established in Vitebsk for the first time ever.

The initiative will be implemented in the city of Vitebsk through May 2018. Positive practices will be spread onto the entire oblast later on. Apart from that, after financing is cut off, the operation of self-help and mutual assistance groups will continue as well as the operation of a family club for representatives of the target group at special premises. Volunteers are expected to teach self-preservation skills to school students while specialists will teach using tried and tested programs.

The Belmed project began in Belarus in March 2016. It is designed to improve the health of Belarusians and raise the quality of healthcare services. The European Union and UN agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF) are expected to allocate a total of €4 million for implementing the project. The project is aimed at preventing non-infectious diseases, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and supporting the modernization of the healthcare system. A contest of local initiatives has been arranged for pilot regions — Vitebsk Oblast and Mogilev Oblast. More than 130 applications have been submitted, with nine applications earmarked for implementation and granted funding.

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