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National launch of the State of the World Children 08

© @ UNICEF Bangladesh/08/Kiron
The SOWC 2008 report was officially launched by Mr. AKM Zafar Ullah Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and by Mr. David Bassiouni, UNICEF Representative a.i. in Bangladesh and UNICEF Communication chief Christine Jaulmes

Dhaka, 16 June 2008:  Strategies that can help reduce the number of children who die before their fifth birthday were highlighted today at the national launch of UNICEF’s flagship report - The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival – in Dhaka at Sharaton Hotel.

At the event, David Bassiouni, UNICEF Representative a.i.and A.K.M Zafar Ullah Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, jointly unveiled the Bengali and the English versions of the publication. Prof. Md. Abul Faiz, Director General of Health Services presented a key note paper outlining the present child survival situation in Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh has made remarkable progress by cutting by half the number of under-five child deaths since 1990, said David Bassiouni, UNICEF Representative a.i. Only six countries have achieved such a rapid reduction. Today Bangladesh is on track to achieve MDG 4 on child mortality reduction. However, despite these very positive results, disparities in education, income and access to services are still affecting child survival.  Reaching the unreached and the most marginalized communities with adequate health care remains a challenge for us today in Bangladesh.”

The report describes the impact of simple, affordable life-saving measures, such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, ORT, and vitamin A supplementation, all of which have helped to reduce child deaths in recent years.

The publication emphasizes that community-level integration of essential services for mothers, newborns and young children, and sustainable improvements in national health systems can save the lives of most of the 26,000 children under five who die each day globally. The challenge is to ensure children have access to a continuum of health care, backed by strong national health systems.

“Child mortality is a sensitive indicator of a country’s development”, said A.K. M. Zafar Ullah Khan, Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family welfare. “We believe that by investing in the health of children and women, we are building a better future for Bangladesh. The remarkable advances we have made in reducing child deaths give reasons for optimism. The causes of and solutions to child deaths are well known, it is a matter of commitment to overcome the last obstacles.”

The report’s analysis reveals that far more needs to be done to increase access to treatments and means of prevention, so the devastating impact of pneumonia, diarrhea, childhood injuries, severe acute malnutrition can be better addressed.

The new information in The State of the World’s Children 2008 is drawn from household survey data as well as material from key partners, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

It provides examples of successful initiatives, such as the Accelerated Child Survival and Development Initiative, which provides integrated primary care to impoverished households in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Measles Initiative; a global campaign that has helped to reduce measles deaths by around 68 per cent worldwide, and by more than 90 per cent in Africa, since 2000.

The approach to child survival that the report advocates would see the best disease-specific initiatives combined with investment in strong national health systems to create a continuum of care for mothers, newborns and young children that extends from the household, to the local clinic, to the district hospital and beyond.

The report emphasizes the need to involve local communities. These communities generate necessary demand for quality health care and their engagement is vital if marginalized and remote populations are to be reached.

The report provides information on a strategic framework developed by UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank to help countries reduce the toll of maternal and child deaths. The framework calls for: 

• Good data to inform policies and programmes;
• A shift to combine disease-specific and nutrition interventions in integrated packages to ensure a continuum of care;
• The mainstreaming of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition into national strategic planning processes to scale up and strengthen health systems;
• Improved quality and increased, predictable financing for strengthening health systems;
• Political commitments to approaches that provide a continuum of care; and
• The harmonization of global health programmes and partnerships.

For more information please contact:
Christine Jaulmes, Chief, Communication and Information Section; Tel: 9336701-10/Ext 209
Arifa S. Sharmin, Communication Specialist, Communication and Information Section
Tel: 9336701-10/Ext 442



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