|© UNICEF/HQ00-0474/ Chalasani|
|A woman holding two malnourished babies in Somalia. Adopting new programme strategies that help save lives is a top priority for UNICEF’s Executive Board.|
By Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, USA, 17 January 2006 – Malnutrition is behind one in every two deaths of children who die before their fifth birthday, the UNICEF Executive Board heard today. In his presentation of UNICEF’s joint Health and Nutrition Strategy for the next decade, Alan Court, Director of UNICEF’s Programme Division, explained the organization’s plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health and nutrition by 2015.
“The discussions today,” explains Mr. Court, “are really about operationalising the Mid-term Strategic Plan that was approved last September and how that relates to the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
“The key issue,” he continues, “is that there are a number of the poorest countries in the world that despite 50 years of development are not making significant improvements. So, what can be done that’s different.”
The World Health Organization (WHO), which was represented by Dr. Catherine Le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director-General of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, was pleased to have participated in the consultative process that resulted in the Health and Nutrition Strategy. She reaffirmed Mr. Court’s comments in her own remarks to the board.
|© UNICEF video|
|Dr. Catherine Le Galès-Camus, World Health Organization Assistant Director-General of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, talks to the UNICEF Executive Board about the new Health and Nutrition strategy.|
“Available evidence makes it clear that substantial reductions in child mortality required for the achievement of the MDGs will not be met without significant acceleration of the progress in addressing under-nutrition as one of the primary causes of newborn and child mortality,” said Le Galès-Camus. “Furthermore, there are critical interactions between child survival, under-nutrition and most of the other MDGs, in particular those related to maternal health, HIV/AIDS and malaria, education and gender equality,” she continued.
Speaking about the challenges in ensuring the WHO–UNICEF partnership is a success, Dr. Le Galès-Camus said: “I think [we must] make sure we are sharing the same objective and have a clear plan of action in respect of UNICEF and WHO roles and comparative advantages.”
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Alan Court also presented the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy for 2006–2015 to the Board. This new strategy has two targets:
Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation.
Alongside these targets, which relate directly to MDG7 to ensure environmental sustainability, UNICEF also hopes to ensure that all schools have adequate child-friendly water and sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programmes.
Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation, said she was pleased the new strategy appeared to go down well with the Executive Board.
“Our efforts,” said Tobin, explaining the new strategy, “focus both on support to community efforts through decentralised programmes that focus on strengthening the government and partners’ response at district level to meet the needs of communities, but they are also focussed very much at the household level and what simple technologies can be used to make a difference.”
Both the Health and Nutrition Strategy and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategies outlined today met with unanimous approval, although some delegates expressed a regret that a greater period of discussion had not been granted for certain items. The strategies will be considered for adoption by the Executive Board on Thursday. UNICEF’s Education Strategy was also presented today, giving delegates a chance to comment on it ahead of the final draft, which will be presented at the Second Regular Session in September.
17 January 2006:
Dr. Catherine Le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director-General of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, World Health Organization, explains the importance of the partnership with UNICEF and the value of discussing the new health and nutrition strategy with the Executive Board.
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