|© UNICEF 2008/Markisz|
|At the UNICEF Executive Board session (from left): Deputy Executive Directors Omar Abdi and Hilde Johnson, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, Board President Anders Lidén, Board Secretary Kirsi Madi and Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry.|
By Roshni Karwal
NEW YORK, USA, 15 September 2007 – UNICEF’s Executive Board convened today for its second regular session of 2008 at United Nations headquarters in New York.
In her opening remarks, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman laid out an ambitious agenda for the three-day meeting – including the mid-term review of UNICEF’s strategic plan for 2006 through 2009, as well as approval of individual country programmes.
Pointing to UNICEF’s effectiveness to date, Veneman highlighted global data released last week showing a continued decline in the rate of mortality for children under the age of five. The data showed a 27 per cent reduction in under-five deaths since 1990.
Areas of focus
But even with such advances, the Executive Director said, much work remains to be done to meet the Millennium Development Goals on child survival and other key issues by the MDG target date of 2015. By reviewing its strategic plan, UNICEF aims to strengthen the capacities of governments and societies to meet those goals and improve the lives of children and women.
Nutrition, education, disease prevention, immunization, water and sanitation, and psycho-social counselling for children affected by conflict and natural disasters are all areas of focus for the mid-term review.
Veneman noted that getting children back in school is especially important to help restore a sense of normalcy during and after humanitarian emergencies – from the current flooding in Bihar, India to the back-to-back hurricanes in the Caribbean and the tensions in and around South Ossetia, Georgia.
AIDS and young people
Later this week, Executive Board members will also look at the work of the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign on young people and HIV/AIDS.
This board session takes place on the heels of the 17th International AIDS Conference, held last month in Mexico City. Unlike previous conferences, the meeting in Mexico highlighted children and AIDS. Many countries reported progress on mother-to-child transmission of HIV and paediatric treatment for HIV and AIDS.
Such progress is a manifestation of increasing commitment on the part of national governments, Veneman said. In this and other key areas of UNICEF’s work, she attributed good results to strong government leadership and the collaborative work of donors, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and local communities.
Veneman called for strengthening collaboration to further improve aid effectiveness and provide better development results in the coming months and years.