|© UNICEF India/2005|
|UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy on the cricket pitch in New Delhi, at the launch of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.|
NEW DELHI, 8 April 2005 – On her trip to India during the first week of April, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy helped launch a campaign to raise HIV/AIDS awareness through sport; spoke at the launch of the World Health report on World Health Day; and met with children from rural areas and from the tsunami-affected Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
UNICEF’s office in India runs the organization’s largest country programme.
HIV/AIDS awareness campaign
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy joined cricket stars on the playing field to help launch a new campaign seeking to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS issues through sport. Among the participating celebrities was Bishen Singh Bedi, former cricket captain for India’s team.
The campaign is supported by the Sports Authority of India, India’s National AIDS Control Organisation, and UNICEF. With one of the world’s largest populations of people living with HIV (estimates range from 2.2 million to 7.6 million – source: SOWC), India is now on a fast track to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and break the silence that has surrounded the subject.
At the launch event Ms. Bellamy said: "This is one battle India cannot afford to lose. The playing field is also a classroom, and lessons learned while competing in a friendly atmosphere with enjoyment and fun make a strong impression on young minds."
World Health Day
Ms. Bellamy was in New Delhi to attend the launch of the World Health Report on World Health Day, 7 April.
The theme of this year’s Report is 'Make Every Mother and Child Count'. Chairing the event were World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook and the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss.
"More than six million children can be saved if they have simple healthcare and thousands of women could be saved if they had access to skilled care,” said Dr Lee. Emphasizing the fact that the health of mothers was the foundation of any society, he added that WHO and its partners were not attempting the impossible. “The Millennium Development Goals for health are attainable; our message today is one of hope," he said.
"We all look to the World Health Organization," said Ms. Bellamy, "to provide the latest technical information and advice, which is key to our cooperative efforts to improve the survival rates and well-being of women and children. This Report is an important step in making that knowledge readily available to decision-makers, as well as to the medical and public health community."
While in India, Ms. Bellamy met one-on-one with the Indian Prime Minister and also had meetings with underprivileged girls from rural India, and with tsunami-affected children from the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
At the meeting with rural girls, Ms. Bellamy stressed that there would be no significant reduction in poverty until girls receive quality basic education and take their place as equal partners in development. In India, female literacy is still 23 percentage points lower than the male literacy rates (source: SOWC).
In the context of the recent tsunami relief effort, Ms Bellamy acknowledged India’s emergence as an important regional player. India is already the second-largest provider of supplies to UNICEF, ranging from vaccines to school kits. Ms. Bellamy is lobbying for a 'stand-by agreement' that would automatically involve the country in relief and rehabilitation whenever a disaster strikes the region.