|© UNICEF/HQ05-0694/Christine Nesbitt|
|UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks with a mother in the paediatric unit of the UNICEF-assisted Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the city of Soweto, South Africa.|
By Thomas Nybo
SOWETO, South Africa, 22 May 2004 - UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman began her first field visit as head of the UN children’s agency with a tour of the largest hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, was one of the first hospitals in the region to treat HIV-positive children. Its Thuthuzela Care Centre also serves as an international role model for treating young rape victims, while helping authorities prosecute their attackers. Ms. Veneman met with hospital officials and discussed strategies to best protect the rights of children.
She toured the care centre, the pediatric AIDS ward and a ward for premature infants, where she talked with a young mother whose son was born two-and-a-half months early. Because of a shortage of mechanical incubators, premature babies like hers are kept close to the mother's bodies to help them develop.
“Although sub-Saharan Africa has just 12 percent of the world’s population, it has 42 percent of all child deaths,” Ms. Veneman said. “There is no other region where children face so many threats, and in southern Africa the HIV/AIDS crisis is particularly devastating to children’s well-being.”
Ms. Veneman was joined on the hospital tour by UNICEF South Africa Representative Macharia Kamau and Denmark's ambassador to South Africa, Torben Brylle. In addition to South Africa, Ms. Veneman's seven-day tour will include Swaziland and Malawi. She'll be meeting senior government officials, donor representatives and aid agencies.
22 May 2005:
UNICEF's Thomas Nybo reports on Ann M. Veneman's visit to Soweto.