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Integrated Health Strategies Can Save Children’s Lives, says UNICEF Flagship, State of the World’s Children Report 2008

Sarajevo, 22 January 2008 – Strategies that can help reduce the number of children who die before their fifth birthday were highlighted today, at the launch of UNICEF’s flagship report - The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival – in Geneva, Switzerland.

While recent data show a fall in the rate of under-five mortality, the State of the World’s Children Report 2008 goes beyond the numbers to suggest actions and initiatives that should lead to further progress. (

“Community-level integration of essential services for mothers, newborns and young children, and sustainable improvements in national health systems can save the lives of many of the more than 26,000 children under five who die each day,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “The report describes the impact of simple, affordable life-saving measures, such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin A supplementation, all of which have helped to reduce child deaths in recent years.”

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

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNICEF stresses that even though many child-related indicators at national level are close to European standards, there is the risk of under-reporting, and the integrated health strategies recommended by the report can help provide a continuum of care for children and families in all countries, and are needed particularly for vulnerable and socially excluded groups. 

In this country, assessments have shown that socially excluded groups, such as Roma populations, have lower levels of access to basic social services.  Last year, the Ministries of Health, Public Health Institutes and UNICEF carried out a mapping to find groups of children who had not been immunized, and found that over half of Roma children surveyed had never been vaccinated. 

Based on these and other findings, the aforementioned partners together with WHO joined efforts last April to raise awareness of the importance of immunization; locate children who have never been or incompletely immunized; and, with funding from the German Committee for UNICEF, supported catch-up immunization through the work of 150 mobile teams targeting 5,000 children in 50 excluded communities—35 with a predominantly Roma population, and 15 with returnees.  Last year’s outbreak of measles, which occurred in both Roma as well as non-Roma communities, confirmed the importance of universal immunization to maintain high public health standards.

UNICEF and its partners supported the conducting of a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the report launched last year showed that other areas of concern include child malnutrition: only 20.4 percent of children aged 0-11 months in BiH are adequately fed, and, on the other end of the spectrum, 17 percent of children under five years of age are obese.

A large-scale project supported by UNICEF strengthening the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina will look at how these and other functional gaps in basic social services may be addressed. The project will be implemented by governmental and civil society partners, with funding from the Royal Norwegian Government, DFID, and the EC. 




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