The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have appointed Joy FM journalist Gary Al-Smith as a partner on their Child Poverty and Equity Campaign.

Al-Smith is assisting Joy Sports editor, and he will be an influencer for the UN agency as it aims to increase awareness on the state of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) across Ghana and Africa.

In a statement to the management of the Multimedia Group Limited, Magali Utytterhaeghe, UNICEF Ghana External Relations Specialist described Al-Smith as "one of the leading positive influencers in Ghanaian society".

In recognition of that fact, UNICEF Ghana says it is "partnering him on its Child Poverty and Equity Campaign currently being rolled out in 2016".

Gary will be fulfilling his duties in a pro bono capacity, but the UNICEF Ghana statement assured "a rare opportunity of making a change by furthering [our] advocacy objectives and convening Ghanaians around issues pertaining yo the rights of children." 

The statement also said: "With [his] wide social network audience, [he] has the power to spark up conversations about various issues affecting children" and went on to "commend [him] on the excellent work [he is] doing in bringing local perspectives to global sports news to Ghanaians".

On Monday, the official UNICEF Ghana page announced the partnership to its global audience on Facebook.

Child mortality and morbidity in Ghana are driven by a host of intersecting factors which include:

• Poor access to quality services: while improved, only 68% of women deliver with a skilled birth attendant. In the Northern Region that figure drops to 37% of women who have access to a skilled delivery. Care-seeking continues to be impeded by cost, distance and quality of services. 
• Poor start to life: Stunting and other forms of malnutrition pose a significant risk to a child's health and development, especially in their early years, increasing their vulnerability to diseases and infections.
• Risky environment: open drainage and lack of waste management systems are major drivers of malaria (the leading cause of death for children under five) as well as diarrhoea.
• Intergenerational poverty: children's health and development is inextricably linked to the wellbeing and health of their mothers, and no less crucially, to their mother’s level of education.

Research has shown that greater levels of education amongst women and lower household poverty lead to significant reductions in infant mortality.

Al-Smith, one of Ghana's most powerful voices in journalism on the global scene, is expected to use his large following to educate and inform his audience on simple tools and tips to prevent disease. This is in recognition of the fact that one in 12 children in Ghana dies before reaching his or her fifth birthday.

In addition to his work with Joy Sports, Al-Smith is a regular contributor on global news titles such as Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Guardian and others. 

He is also the immediate past curator of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers in Accra, and has been selected as one of 50 Shapers from around the world who will be at the prestigious Davos global youth leaders meeting in the Swiss Alps in January 2017.

Hours after the UNICEF Ghana annoucement, Gary took to social media to begin his first assignment, urging his followers to take up handwashing to prevent common ailments.

A simple practice like handwashing with soap can prevent diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Handwashing saves! #fightchildpovertygh pic.twitter.com/qVcM1mDuuf

— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) November 7, 2016

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