A plan of action to make Ho Chi Minh City child-friendly is the goal of a two-day workshop that began on March 23.

Participants from HCM City ’s Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, UNICEF and concerned departments and agencies are drawing up a two-year project to be finished by the end of 2011.

The project will collect data on child survival and development, child protection and resource allocation to establish evidence-based policies that deal with urban issues for children in HCM City , according to Ly Phat Viet Linh, the UNICEF’s programme officer.

The project will improve the capacity of local people and authorities to respond to emerging issues such as children affected by HIV/AIDS, migration and child protection through various interventions, including information sharing and communication activities.

It will also promote a protective environment for children and deal with urban issues for children in HCM City, such as obesity, child mental illness, autism and childhood injury.

The project will this year focus on collecting and generating strategic information on key issues, especially those that could help decision-makers in policymaking and implementation.

It will also provide support to monitor the implementation of national health and nutrition policies and new technical guidelines.

A specific strategy and action plan for micro-nutrient deficiency prevention and control in HCM City during the year is also part of the plan.

Promoting breast-feeding practices through private clinic systems, improving the quality of education through effective application of child-friendly school approaches and providing support to test the model of solid waste treatment in urban slums are other activities during the year.

The project is estimated to cost more than 1.5 million USD, with the city budget contributing 22,500 USD and UNICEF the remaining.

“Improving understanding about the situation of children, in particular immigration and child poverty in the city, is crucial to deal with emerging issues and challenges facing the city,” said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nhung, deputy director of HCM City Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

It is also important to enhance capacity in order to formulate adequate polices that improve the well-being of all children, she added./.