News and Views on Africa from Africa
Last update: 1 July 2022 h. 10:44
Subscribe to our RSS feed
RSS logo

Latest news

Action and Contacts


One of the world's most widely-read books, Facts for Life (FFL), itself gained new life in March with its first major revision in a decade and new PDF and website versions. More than 15 million copies of earlier versions of the book are in use, and it has been translated into 215 languages. FFL is a joint effort of UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, WFP and the World Bank to provide families and communities around the world with essential information on low-cost ways to help prevent child deaths and diseases and to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth. Everyone has the right to know this life-saving information.

Lifesaving book gets new life (UNICEF) -- This website saves lives. That's the message from Facts for Life (FFL), one of the most popular books in the world. With 15 million copies available in 215 languages, this health guide has saved thousands of lives with its basic, important tips and tools, according to UNICEF. "Every year, nearly 11 million children die from preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthday," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "We have the knowledge to prevent these deaths." Facts for Life contains the essential health information parents and caregivers need to know - and can act on. It provides the latest scientific information on child health in language that is easily grasped.

The book instructs parents on how to make homes more "child-proof" to prevent accidents; suggests when parents need to consult a health worker if their child has a cough; and emphasizes that spacing births at least two years apart is good for the health of both women and children. The book has been used by teachers, media, government and health workers and non-governmental organizations around the world. But as books aren't always the best way to reach a world audience, FFL has been adapted into almost every existing means of communication. Previous versions have been transformed into a wide variety of media throughout Africa.

Nigeria's 'The Guardian' newspaper turned FFL into a humorous comic strip, while in Chad, an FFL team visited villages throughout the 1990s to help communities develop, act in and film dramas communicating FFL messages. One of the most recent African translations was Kenya's Kiswahili version in 1999. "It's been a hit, with 20,000 copies printed," said UNICEF communication officer Greg Owino. "'Kweli za Maisha' is currently being used by religious leaders, child rights activists, adult literacy teachers, Kiswahili teachers in primary and secondary schools, extension and health workers, opinion leaders, school and public libraries, journalists, politicians and HIV/AIDS campaigners," he said.

The newest edition of FFL is on the Web ( Along with its first major revision in a decade, FFL has been given a comprehensive website, with a PDF version for those who want to print the book and a text-only version for surfers with slow or unreliable Internet connections. "Facts for Life is such an important resource that everyone, everywhere should have their own copy," said Tanya Accone, the head of UNICEF's Web unit. "Therefore it's really important to make it available online, for free, to as many people as possible." The Web version lets organizations using FFL avoid three major hurdles: it's free, whereas the print edition costs US$7.50; it arrives instantaneously, instead of by overseas post (which could take weeks); and it's available in unlimited quantities. That may result in saving even more lives - which is UNICEF's goal. "Facts for Life will continue to provide more than just knowledge. Its impact will be measured in the countless lives it saves and changes," Bellamy said.

Contact the editor by clicking here Editor