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Zimbabwe, 17 November 2010: Graca Machel pledges continued support for Zimbabwe’s women and children

A call to accelerated Child Survival and Development in Zimbabwe

HARARE, 17 November—Visiting UNICEF Global Movement for Children Advocate and Child Rights leader Mrs. Graca Machel has applauded efforts by the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe to uphold the rights of children in the country although acknowledging that a lot still needs to be done for Zimbabwe’s children in areas of health, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, education and child protection and participation.

“I have been very impressed by the progress made in Zimbabwe,” said Mrs Graca Machel. “The level of commitment by the Inclusive Government to improve the wellbeing of children even under difficult circumstances and with very limited resources is amazing and highly commendable. Through my interaction with the children of Zimbabwe, as well, I am very convinced that the future of this country is very bright.” 

Mrs. Machel’s visit, hosted by UNICEF, comes in the week of the Global Celebrations for the 21 st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); an international treaty ratified by Zimbabwe in 1990, that recognizes the human rights of children. CRC commemorations are held each year on November 20.

Her visit presents a timely opportunity to pledge support for the realization of children’s rights especially as the country is going through a transitional period. Zimbabwe’s children face immense challenges which include high rates of child mortality and chronic malnutrition triggered by years of economic decline and political challenges. (Multiple Monitoring Indicator Monitoring Survey 2009 and Food and Nutrition Survey).

During her three day visit Mrs. Machel met with Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy President Joice Mujuru, Deputy prime Minsters Arthru Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe. She also met with other senior members of the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, co-chairs of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC), international donor community, SADC ambassadors, Civil Society Organisations and the United Nations Country Team.

Mrs. Machel also visited Harare Central Hospital’s Paediatric Unit and spent time with children from various backgrounds in Zimbabwe who updated her on their participation in the ongoing constitution making process, among many other things. At Harare hospital she was briefed by hospital authorities on progress made by the institution to provide quality health care to Zimbabwe’s children. These include the reopening of some sections of the Children Ward which had been closed as a result of water shortages.

“Child survival is matter very close to my heart and the fact that we have 100 children dying in Zimbabwe everyday is unforgivable; it’s a serious cause for concern and action,” said child rights advocate Mrs. Graca Machel.

“The world today has the knowledge, medication and capacity to reduce to a minimum, the level of transmission of HIV to children and to treat children with the disease. Therefore, there is no reason why as Zimbabwe and SADC we continue to lose children because they have no access to treatment.”

Mrs. Machel announced plans to support the re-launch of the Child Survival and Development Revolution to place children’s issues right on top of the agenda and ensure child survival in light of the high mortality rates. She also emphasised the historic opportunity that the constitutional process represents to entrench children’s rights into the highest law of the land.

“Mrs. Machel’s visit is a reminder to the children of this country that they have a friend and advocate who wants them to grow up healthy, educated and protected,” said Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative.

“We appreciate her efforts to support children’s rights in Zimbabwe to ensure that children are put at the center of the country’s rehabilitation and development efforts. We know our efforts will not be in vain because the level of commitment by the Inclusive Government to improve the welfare of women and children is very high.”

Zimbabwe’s health, education, water and social welfare sectors have over the past decade been under severe strain owing to years neglect and underfunding.  However, the recent formation of the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe which has set its priorities on the revitalization of basic social services has brought back hope for Zimbabwe’s children. It is against this background and, in the spirit of the rebuilding efforts of the Inclusive Government that Mrs. Machel together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced efforts to work with the international donor community to scale up successful programmes in the social sector.

In other renewed efforts to revitalize basic social services the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare with the support of UNICEF and the World Bank last month launched the Health Sector Investment Case, a roadmap on how to rebuild Zimbabwe’s health sector through adequate investment in Primary Health Care to ensure that even the poorest have access to quality health care. According to the investment case Zimbabwe needs an additional investment of least USD 700 million to reduce maternal and under-five mortality by 17% and 38% respectively over the next three years.

For further information, please contact:

Micaela Marques de Sousa UNICEF Zimbabwe Chief of Communications on Cell: 0772 124 268 or Email:



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