MERCY teams up with UNICEF for Malaysia’s vulnerable children
Partnership will tackle disparities, improving health and education outcomes
KUALA LUMPUR, 26 June 2008 – Despite Malaysia’s remarkable success in achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals, some 7,000 children under five years old continue to die each year from preventable and treatable diseases while four percent of children are not enrolled in primary schools.
Children are being compromised in many ways and due to several factors, underpinned mainly by social, geographical and economic disparities.
In response to the plight of the country’s most vulnerable children, Malaysia’s renown humanitarian NGO, MERCY Malaysia and the world’s leading agency for children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have teamed up to find lasting solutions that will make a positive difference to the lives of these children.
Partnership to tackle inequalities
Speaking at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony between the two agencies recently, UNICEF Malaysia Representative Mr. Youssouf Oomar, explained that the MERCY Malaysia and UNICEF partnership is aimed at tackling existing inequalities in the country to enhance the protective environment for Malaysia’s vulnerable children.
“Although Malaysia has made significant progress in child health and primary education in the last three decades, some children in the country are still missing out. UNICEF and the Government are committed to overcoming these gaps to ensure that every child benefits from the country’s development,” said Mr. Youssouf. “Our collaboration with MERCY Malaysia is a step in this positive direction.”
The collaboration between MERCY Malaysia and UNICEF is a result of UNICEF’s Country Program Action Plan (CPAP) 2008-2010 signed with the Government of Malaysia earlier this year. The Country Program which is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child will, amongst others, work to ensure that underserved groups of children are supported with policies, strategies and partnerships that will lead to improved access to health, education and social services.
Fostering community ownership
The partnership between MERCY and UNICEF will focus primarily on two main issues for children: providing health services for vulnerable children and their communities; and developing risk reduction and education programs in Sabah and Sarawak.
“We believe that through this valuable collaboration with UNICEF, we will be able to reach marginalised groups, namely children, and build their capacities in areas of survival, development, protection and participation,” said MERCY Malaysia President Datuk Dr Jemilah Mahmood. “Through our joint projects, we will be able to enhance self-sustaining national capacities.”
To reach the most isolated or excluded, and to foster community ownership of health, education and social programs, all interventions and activities will be organised around community partnerships that will both actively engage community members as well as mobilise them in support of improved practices. Planned activities in the near future include field visits and assessments to map out the situation, including existing gaps and challenges.
“Programs that build on established structures within a community, that are socially inclusive, and that include community members in planning, evaluation and implementation are among the most successful in developing countries, added Mr. Youssouf.
“Participation is critical to enable people to achieve their full capabilities and foster equity, equality and empowerment.”
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