|© UNICEF Russia/2009|
|UNICEF Representative Bertrand Bainvel (second from left) and colleagues at the mid-term review of the 2006-2010 programme of cooperation between the Russian Federation and UNICEF on 11 March 2009.|
MOSCOW, Russian Federation, 3 April 2009 – Over the last three years, the Russian Federation has continued to register important advances for children and women.
Driven by increased income and an improvement in primary care, child and maternal mortality levels have decreased. High-level government attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS has allowed rapid progress towards universal access to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and paediatric care. New national policies, plans, and institutions prioritize social investment, improve the targeting of the most vulnerable groups, improve services and monitor the situation of children.
Held in Moscow on 11 March, the mid-term review of the 2006-2010 programme of cooperation between the Russian Federation and UNICEF provided a unique opportunity to take stock of these advances and identified remaining challenges for children in the Russian Federation.
Led by the Ministry of Health and Social Development and UNICEF, more than 50 senior participants from ministries, regional governments, non-governmental agencies, the network of Ombudspersons for Children's Rights, academia, UN and bilateral agencies analyzed results and progress in early childhood development, child protection, young people's health and development and HIV/AIDS, children in the North Caucasus, and research and advocacy to promote children's rights.
Challenges to childhood
In spite of national achievements and political commitment to support families and children, challenges to childhood remain.
The mortality from all causes in children aged 1 to 19 years is almost four times than that of Western European countries. Many adolescent deaths are accounted for by external causes, 75 per cent of which are deemed preventable. More than 700,000 children are estimated to live without parental care, over 156,000 of them in institutions.
The HIV epidemic is fast growing and targets young people disproportionately (80 per cent are those infected are between 15 and 30 years of age). Persisting levels of stigma fuel discrimination against adults and children living with HIV or disability. Some ethnic and religious groups are often victims of stereotyping and judgmental attitudes as well – and this frequently starts from childhood.
Socio-economic disparities among Russian regions also continue to be a concern. From 1985 to 2007, Russia's Gini coefficient (which measures income inequality) has almost doubled, rising from 0.24 to 0.42. Finally, the unfolding crisis is threatening to erode recent gains made in poverty reduction.
An evolving engagement
The mid-term review confirmed the need to give priority to preventive health care in the context of unhealthy lifestyles and the increasing HIV epidemic; to invest in empowering vulnerable families to combat child institutionalization; and to promote an inclusive society free from discrimination.
The unfolding crisis and upcoming country report submission to the Committee of the Rights on the Child in 2011 provided a new impetus for participants to identify gaps and provide recommendations to improve data monitoring systems, social protection mechanisms, legislation and quality of services.
Looking ahead, beyond 2010
In the mid-term review, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF encouraged participants to start looking beyond the end of the current country programme in 2010, with a view to further mobilize resources available in the Russian Federation to the benefit of children in Russia and the rest of the world.
Following the review, the Ministry and UNICEF will convene a series of roundtables – with the participation of implementing partners – to agree on the most suitable process and mechanism to support a new form of engagement between UNICEF and the Russian Federation.