Rabat – Despite progress over the years, there are considerable deficits in early childhood development (ECD) in Morocco, according to a new report by the World Bank issue late Tuesday.Morocco has substantial gaps: just 68 per cent of births received parental care and only 31 percent regular parental care (at least four visits), the World Bank’s “Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation: Early Childhood in the Middle East and North Africa” report said.The study said there are a number of shortcomings that need to be addressed in terms of children’s social and emotional development in Morocco. For instance, only two thirds (63 per cent) of births had a skilled attendant at delivery, while in the first month of life, 2.5 per cent of children die, and 3.8 per cent in the first year of life.66 children under the age of one die every day. In 2004, infant mortality, which refers to children dying before their first birthday, was 38 deaths per thousand births. This is above the 2012 average rate for the Middle East and North Africa region (24 per thousand.)25 children out of every thousand die during their first month of life, which is above the 2012 regional average of 15 in every thousand (UNICEF 2014), the report said.In terms of immunization rates, Morocco is doing fairly well with 90 per cent of children age 1 fully immunized. Children are considered fully immunized if they have received immunizations for all six major preventable childhood diseases: tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping, cough, tetanus, polio, and measles.Malnutrition is a problem in Morocco, where 23 percent of children are stunted, 10 per cent are underweight, and 12 per cent are wasted.Children’s nutritional status is measured by stunting (height-for-age), underweight (weight –for-age), and wasting (weight-for-height).In 2004, 23 per cent of Moroccan children under five were stunted, 10 per cent were underweight, and 12 per cent were wasted, the report said.According to the report, the health status of Moroccan children is examined through indicators of early mortality, pre-natal care, having a skilled attendant at birth, and immunizations.A number of background characteristics at the child, family, and community levels affect ECD outcomes: gender, parents’, education, household socioeconomic status (wealth), geographic location (region or governorate), and residence (urban or rural).
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has called on the Somali authorities to ensure the proper distribution of 850 tonnes of rice on board one of its chartered ships, which was released earlier this week three months after pirates seized it while on its way to feed 28,000 survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami.“We are urging representatives from both the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Port Authorities to work with WFP to ensure that food aid is properly handled and distributed to the needy in Somalia,” the agency’s Somalia Country Director Robert Hauser said yesterday.The MV Semlow was seized off the Somali coast on 27 June while on its way from Mombasa, Kenya, with a 10-man crew and rice for the northern Puntland region, the first time in WFP history that a ship carrying relief food has been hijacked. It arrived in the port of El Maan yesterday. The ship is expected to complete the unloading of the entire cargo of rice donated by Germany and Japan within the coming days. WFP is requesting its regularly-contracted transporter in El Maan to unload the food and store it in its warehouse until a distribution plan is provided. Somalia has been without a functioning central government and has been riven by factional fighting ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime in 1991. Just last Sunday a UN security official was shot dead by two men in the southern Kismayo region, prompting the relocation of 12 national and one international staff.