UNICEF Executive Board

Thursday, 9 June 2005: Executive Board discusses progress and plans for five major programme areas

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© UNICEF video
UNICEF’s Executive Board President, Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi of Iran, at the Annual Session of the Executive Board.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, 9 June 2005 – The focus on the fourth day of the Annual Session of UNICEF’s Executive Board  was on five major programme areas – HIV/AIDS, child protection, health and nutrition, post-conflict transition and immunization. Executive Board members, including Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi of Iran, the Board President, listened to presentations about UNICEF’s accomplishments in these areas and about what action must be taken to make improvements in them. 

Doreen Mulenga, from UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS team, explained her group’s intention to scale up the programme using what is known among experts as the ‘Four P’s of the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS’. These include:

  • Paediatric treatment: Paediatric HIV drug formulations, including cotrimoxazole to prevent opportunistic infections in infants, must become widely available.
  • PMTCT: Drugs to prevent mother-to-child-transmission and voluntary testing and counselling services must be widely accessible.
  • Prevention: Limit the spread of AIDS through forthright national leadership, widespread public awareness and intensive prevention efforts to protect children and adolescents from infection.
  • Protection, care and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS: Provide basic services including education, healthcare, nutrition and psycho-social support to more mothers, children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS.

One of UNICEF’s key strategies in combating HIV/AIDS, which Ambassador Danesh-Yazdi called “the menace of the age”, is the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and the protection for children whose lives have been affected by the disease.

Earlier in the week, the Board heard about how this strategy is already underway in Namibia. “Antiretroviral drugs are available nationwide for pregnant mothers to prevent mother-to-child transmission and we have testing centres where people are encouraged to come voluntarily to know their status,” explained Hon. Marlene Mungunda, the Namibian Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, on Wednesday. “We are [also] training communities to take care of the counselling of affected children. There are feeding schemes for the AIDS orphans and also home-based care for the infected parents.”

UNICEF’s child protection agenda

Ambassador Danesh-Yazdi said he found the presentation on child protection – keeping children safe from violence, exploitation and abuse – both moving and alarming.

“It was giving us a sign,” he said, “that the International community as a whole should pay greater attention to the fate of children.”

After the video, the UN Representative for the International Save the Children Alliance, Görel Bogärde, read a statement to the Board in support of the proposed changes. She said that child protection must be made a top priority at every stage of UNICEF’s response in emergency situations.

“UNICEF recognizes the need for a shift in its focus from projects for specific groups of affected children to a more comprehensive approach of supporting change in social and institutional environments,” said Bogärde. “We look forward to sharing our experiences from the field as UNICEF moves towards strengthening its own child protection response in emergencies.”

Ambassador Danesh-Yazdi said that the talks, which followed after the formal presentations, allowed the Board to discuss all the options for improving the draft proposals before reaching a consensus on how to proceed.


     

     

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    9 June 2005:
    UNICEF’s Executive Board President Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi of Iran, talks about HIV/AIDS and child protection.

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