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UNICEF’s latest data show improvements in the situation of children, but disparities remain

 Bangkok, 30 January 2014 – Declaring that 'every child counts', UNICEF today urged greater effort and innovation to identify and address the gaps that prevent the most disadvantaged of the world's 2.2 billion children from enjoying their rights.

The children's agency, in a report released today, highlights the importance of data in making progress for children and exposing the unequal access to services and protections that mars the lives of so many.

“Data have made it possible to save and improve the lives of millions of children, especially the most deprived,” said Tessa Wardlaw, Chief of UNICEF’s Data and Analytics Section. “Further progress can only be made if we know which children are the most neglected, where girls and boys are out of school, where disease is rampant or where basic sanitation is lacking.”

In East Asia and the Pacific, under-five mortality has fallen by 65 percent since 1990. This is the joint highest rate of progress globally, tied with Latin America and the Caribbean. The country with the highest rate of child mortality in this region is Lao PDR, while Japan and Singapore have the joint lowest rate.

“There has been good overall progress in this region, but disparities persist both between and within countries,” UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific Dr Isiye Ndombi said. “The new disaggregated data in this report will help UNICEF and national governments to refocus their efforts on the most vulnerable children.”

Tremendous progress has been made since the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was signed in 1989 and in the run up to the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. UNICEF's flagship report, The State of the World's Children 2014 in Numbers shows that:

  • Some 90 million children who would have died before reaching the age of five if child mortality rates had stuck at their 1990 level have, instead, lived. In large measure, this is because of progress in delivering immunizations, health, and water and sanitation services.
  • Primary school enrolment has increased, even in the least developed countries: Whereas in 1990 only 53 in 100 children in those countries gained school admission, by 2011 the number had improved to 81 in 100.

Even so, the statistics in the report, titled ‘Every Child Counts: Revealing disparities, advancing children's rights’, also bear witness to ongoing violations of children's rights:

  • Some 6.6 million children under 5 years of age died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes, in violation of their fundamental right to survive and develop.
  • Fifteen per cent of the world’s children are put to work that compromises their right to protection from economic exploitation and infringes on their right to learn and play.
  • Eleven per cent of girls are married before they turn 15, jeopardizing their rights to health, education and protection.

Despite having the highest under-five mortality rate in East Asia and the Pacific, Lao PDR also has the greatest rate of progress – a 72 percent reduction in child mortality. The Lao Social Indicator Survey 2011-12 provided data which, for the first time, enabled the government analyse the situation of women and children at the provincial level. The survey clearly showed wide disparities determined by geography, ethno-linguistic group, and wealth.

This data was used by UNICEF, the Lao PDR Government, and partners to update the situation of children and their families and measure progress towards the MDGs. UNICEF is using this data to shape its advocacy and programme response. For example, UNICEF’s analysis of the nutrition data showed the need for increased attention to breastfeeding and to counter the trend of using breast milk substitutes. It also showed the need for greater attention to the linkages between nutrition and open defecation.

Much of what is known about the situations of children comes from household surveys, and in particular the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). Designed and supported by UNICEF, MICS are conducted by national statistical authorities and provide disaggregated data on a range of topics affecting children's survival, development, rights and experience of life. To date, MICS surveys have been conducted in more than 100 countries. In the last round of MICS, interviews were completed in more than 650,000 households in 50 countries.

Thirty years have passed since ‘The State of the World’s Children’ began to publish tables of standardized global and national statistics aimed at providing a detailed picture of children’s circumstances. With the release of an edition of the report dedicated to data, UNICEF is inviting decision-makers and the general public to access and use its statistics - at www.data.unicef.org - to drive positive change for children.

“Data are among our most powerful tools to influence decision-makers, identify gaps, and target investments and interventions to reach the most vulnerable children,” Isiye Ndombi said. “Data can be used to measure the extent to which commitments made on the political stage are honoured in children’s homes, clinics, schools and streets.”

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Broadcasters: A video news story is available at: weshare.unicef.org/mediaresources

To read The State of the World’s Children 2014 In Numbers: Every Child Counts - Revealing disparities, advancing children’s rights and to see additional multimedia material, please visit: www.unicef.org/sowc2014/numbers

For information on MICS, please visit www.childinfo.org/mics.html

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. Visit: www.unicef.org/eapro

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Andrew Brown, UNICEF Bangkok, Tel: +66 (0)2 356 9407 / Mobile +66 (0)843 347 506; ambrown@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, Tel: + 1 212 326 7452 / Mobile: + 1 917 378 2128; kdonovan@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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