UNICEF joins Stand Up Take Action campaign; calls for concerted efforts to educate children and save mothers
UNICEF, the UN agency tasked to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children, joins the UN Millenium Campaign’s Stand Up and Take Action event on October 17-19 to address the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
In December 2000, world leaders from 191 member countries of the UN adopted the Millennium Declaration to end extreme poverty. From this declaration came a set of eight time-bound goals called the MDGs which encapsulates the world’s development aspirations by the target date of 2015.
The eight MDGs include: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; develop a global partnership for development.
As the target date of 2015 fast approaches, UNICEF calls on world leaders to work towards fulfillment of the goals, especially on MDG 2 (Achieve Universal Primary Education) and MDG 5 (Improve Maternal Health). These are two of the goals least likely to be achieved in the Philippines.
Achieving universal primary education in the country remains a challenge, with 1.9 million children aged 6-11 who are not in school. For every 100 children who enter Grade 1, only 63 eventually finish Grade 6. Figures reveal that the country is moving away from the targets largely because of poverty, the unabated increase in population and underinvestment in basic education.
On the issue of maternal health, the Philippines is among 68 countries which contribute to 97% of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide. Around 11 Filipino mothers die everyday mostly from severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion. This is because public reproductive health service is not comprehensive enough, too few mothers receive skilled care before, during, and after pregnancy and lastly, most mothers do not always have access to quality emergency obstetric care services.
UNICEF Philippines seeks involvement in both issues through partnering with government and non-government actors, as well as other UN agencies in building capacities and upgrading facilities.
UNICEF promotes the Child Friendly School System to empower schools and communities to make a significant difference to children. It seeks to develop schools which are ready for children, are child-seeking, effective, healthy, protective, inclusive and gender-sensitive, and community and family focused.
UNICEF also works in close collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to support interventions seeking to lower maternal mortality, which include increased access to skilled birth attendance, the upgrading of health facilities to provide Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care, and the reduction of iron deficiency in women.
“UNICEF calls on all sectors to band together to bring a future full of promise to children around the world. Ensuring that children have access to proper education and mothers are given adequate care not only make for better communities, but are also inextricably linked to achieving the other MDGs,” Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Representative, said.