Board concludes its first session of 2007
By Sabine Dolan
NEW YORK, USA, 18 January 2007 – On the final day of the UNICEF Executive Board’s first session of 2007, discussions on budget issues, child hunger and undernutrition, education and child protection topped the agenda.
“In the past few days, we have – among other issues – discussed the important programmatic work of UNICEF in support of the Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals,” said Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, addressing national delegates who pledged their countries’ levels of funding for UNICEF at today’s meeting.
“As we have said many times, children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals – and with only eight years left before the 2015 deadline, we need to accelerate progress to help ensure that the goals are reached,” Ms. Veneman added. She went on to thank the represented countries for their support.
AIDS campaign update
Close cooperation between UNICEF, governments and other partners has been a prominent theme of this week’s Executive Board session. Numerous speakers have cited such cooperation as a critical tool in achieving the development goals – including the goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
UNICEF’s Chief of HIV/AIDS Programs, Peter McDermott delivered an update on the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS global campaign during yesterday’s Executive Board meeting.
“Twenty-five years into the epidemic, and despite all the gains we are seeing at the global level, they do not yet translate into tangible and discernable differences for children,” he said.
‘Tragically insufficient’ response
Mr. McDermott’s message was clear: While some nations have made progress on treating children living with HIV and preventing the spread of the deadly virus, the world’s response remains “tragically insufficient.”
Even as 1,000 children are newly infected with HIV each day, only 10 per cent of those who need antiretroviral treatment receive it, reported Mr. McDermott. And just 4 per cent of children born to HIV-infected mothers receive prophylactic treatment to prevent opportunistic infections that can be fatal.
“HIV and AIDS is still regarded as a primarily adult disease,” said Mr. McDermott. “I think that there is still a lack or inadequate understanding and recognition of how HIV and AIDS is permeating and negatively affecting the lives of children and the families who look after them.”
Partnership for children
During an open discussion following the AIDS campaign update, UN Ambassador Filipe Chidumo of Mozambique spoke on behalf of the Executive Board members from African nations, which are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
“We need to do more, we need to commit more governments on one side and national organisations, NGOs and citizens themselves in a partnership,” said Mr. Chidumo.
“While some has been done, much remains to be done,” Mr. McDermott added. “If we unite for children, we can unite against HIV and AIDS – and children deserve no less.”