|© UNICEF/ HQ06-2587/Kamber|
|UNICEF’s Executive Board is meeting to review the results of programmes for vulnerable children like this girl displaced by conflict in the Central African Republic.|
By Kun Li
NEW YORK, 4 June 2007 – UNICEF’s Executive Board today opened its annual session in New York.
During the four-day meeting, board members will review the organization’s 2006 Annual Report, discuss country programmes and look back at the results achieved in education, gender equality, child nutrition and other areas.
“We will have the opportunity to review the progress done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” the Board President, His Excellency Javier Loayza Barea, said in his opening remarks.
Country programmes at the centre
Programme documents from some 25 countries will be reviewed by the board members here this week. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted that although discussions here are vitally important, the organization’s most important work is done in the field.
It is in the field that outcomes are delivered that make a difference to the lives of millions of children, Ms. Veneman said. Some programmes target children in countries ranked among the poorest in the world, she noted, while others address the needs of countries with higher income levels – but where, nevertheless, children are in need of protection and support.
UNICEF’s programmes deal with countries emerging from conflict, countries facing high HIV prevalence and countries with serious internal disparities, Ms. Veneman continued. UNICEF’s role in each of these environments is to help provide opportunities that allow children to achieve their potential.
Preceding the board’s discussion of the Annual Report, Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam highlighted the results of work carried out by UNICEF and its partners.
Mr. Gautam pointed to high-impact interventions in the area of young child survival and development, for example. Between 1999 and 2005, he said, child deaths due to measles declined by 60 per cent globally and by 75 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, far exceeding the original target of a 50 per cent reduction.
At the same time, immunization coverage has reached 78 per cent worldwide, with some 113 countries exceeding 90 per cent coverage. Yet despite the encouraging numbers, Mr. Gautam cautioned, “28 million children remain still un-immunized every year – 75 per cent of them in just 10 countries.”
In the area of basic education and gender equality, he added, the estimated number of primary school-aged children who are not in school has gone down to 77 million, thanks to initiatives including abolition of school fees, support for child-friendly schools and ‘back to school’ campaigns.
“However, this is 77 million too many,” remarked Mr. Gautam, highlighting the need to ensure universal school access and to see that children who are enrolled actually stay in school and complete their education.