|UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy|
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NEW YORK, 4 March 2005 - Three of the four million newborn babies who die worldwide each year could be saved by low-tech and low-cost interventions, according to a landmark series of articles launched by medical journal The Lancet.
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said at the launch that UNICEF strongly endorses the findings of the series, which is about child survival and focuses on neonatal deaths. UNICEF, she says, is committed to playing its part in the recommendations set forward.
“I believe UNICEF will play an increasingly important role in helping governments develop the vigorous evidence-based programs and monitoring systems needed to attract new resources. And we will play an important role in pushing all the players to focus on reaching the most marginalized and empowering local communities to help design, manage and provide feedback on new initiatives,” she said.
Ms. Bellamy went on to explain that UNICEF will place its emphasis on saving as many as a million newborns through family care and community outreach programs, including: prevention of malaria and tetanus, keeping the newborn warm, exclusive breastfeeding and early recognition of illness and treatment.
The Lancet articles also look at the importance of the continuity of care from mother to newborn to child. Bellamy agreed and added, “While we focus on health packages that strengthen this continuum of care, we must put equal emphasis on the overall status of women in many of the countries where the mortality rates are highest.”
“The critical fact is that since 1990, progress has stalled in sub-Saharan Africa, and in several African countries has even gone in reverse. Those are the countries with high prevalence of AIDS, countries that have experienced war in the 90s, or both. Those are staggering environmental challenges that have decimated health systems, health budgets, and have directly contributed to child deaths.
“UNICEF has in the last ten years adapted its programmes to respond more ably to these challenges, which were not nearly as prevalent in prior decades. UNICEF operates in a more complex world with more than 40 countries officially considered to be in “crisis” – so it’s appropriate that our work has evolved”.