By JAMES KUNDA-
THE United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has included its country office in Zambia among the 15 innovation laboratory centres that the agency has opened worldwide.
The innovation laboratories run by UNICEF work to bring together the private sector, academia and governments to develop solutions for key social issues concerning child and maternal survival.
UNICEF representative for Zambia, Hamid El-Bashir said the move was a tribute to the local staff that, along with other partners, had utilised simple forms of technology to inform mothers on early infant diagnosis of HIV.
Mr El-Bashir said the team had worked hard to inspire more than 40,000 Zambian youths and adolescents to sign up for the U-Report which gave them free and confidential information on how they could protect themselves from HIV.
This is contained in a statement made available by the UNICEF country office in Zambia yesterday.
“This is a tribute to our great staff who with our partners have done trailblazing work in using Short Message Service technology under a programme dubbed Mwanato, lowering the time it takes for mothers to learn the results of early infant diagnosis of HIV,” he said.
Mr El-Bashir said UNICEF was committed to ensuring that the laboratory was open to children and youths who wanted to develop and test their ideas to produce results that would help Zambia achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Co-leader of the UNICEF innovation unit at the organisation’s headquarters in New York, Chris Fabian said the Zambian team had a task of scaling open-source technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work.
“Over the past three months, we have been tracking UNICEF’s innovation activities and so far, we have recorded more than 230 programmes, including Zambia’s Mwanato and U-Report initiatives,” he said.