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Saving lives and achieving results for children in Liberia with Equity

Monrovia, Liberia, 2 December 2010 - Save the Children (SCF) and UNICEF today launched in Liberia their respective global publications on Equity at a joint briefing event attended by officials from the government, international development agencies, the Liberia Children’s Parliament and the civil society.

Both publications, SCF’s ‘A Fair Chance at Life- Why Equity Matters for Child Mortality’, and UNICEF’s ‘Progress for Children –Achieving the MDGs with Equity,’ are based on thorough research, examining data on disparities within developing countries, and reviewing the evidence about what a variety of strategies seemed to accomplish in reducing under-five mortality.

It shows that an equity-focused approach will accelerate progress towards the health MDGs faster than the current path, proving to be most effective - and most cost-efficient - in low-income, high mortality countries.

"We know that most of the world’s child mortality happens in poor countries and within these in the poorer communities," said the Regional Director of Save the Children for West and Central Africa, Mr. Aboubacry Tall.

"Common sense would dictate that we put our resources where the needs are greatest; focus on universal access; assess progress across income categories; include other health determinants such as nutrition, sanitation, women’s empowerment and social protection; and empower communities and  families. What is striking about these actions is that relatively poor countries in the thralls of food crisis have achieved more equitable results than better endowed countries."

Though Liberia has made progress in reducing child deaths in the last seven years since the end of the civil conflict in 2003, the under-five child mortality rate still remains high at 133 per thousand live births.

There are more than 300,000 extremely poor households in the country, and if one correlates the under-five child mortality with the population, the highest percentages of child deaths come from these households.

The same goes for the 331,000 primary school aged children not in school, or the 96% unregistered children in the country.

"Equity is not a new radical strategy. It has always been there. But now we need to implement faster and better strategies focusing on the most disadvantaged to achieve equitable results for children in Liberia, because the gap is widening between the rich and the poor. The biggest percentage of children dying, not in school and suffering from abuse and exploitation belong to the most disadvantaged and poor families. This is where we must focus our resources and efforts," said the UNICEF Representative of Liberia, Ms. Isabel Crowley.

During the discussion following the briefing, officials from the civil society and the UN agreed that strong cooperation and partnerships within development agencies and between the UN, government and civil society partners are crucial in implementing strategies to achieve equitable results for children.

Other key actions for Liberia is to pass and implement the Children’s Bill which encompasses all rights of all children in the country; initiate social cash transfer schemes and other innovative strategies that will directly reach the most disadvantaged in the quickest time; use new technologies as much as possible to accelerate results; and further strengthen involvement and empowerment of communities in health, education and other social interventions.

For more information, please contact:
Miraj Pradhan, UNICEF Liberia, Tel +231 6282074, email:  mpradhan@unicef.org

 

 
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