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UNICEF and Armenian postal service join forces to stamp out child mortality

© UNICEF Armenia/2008
A UNICEF Armenia poster promotes sales of the new stamp issued on 2 June 2008.

By Emil Sahakyan

YEREVAN, Armenia, 3 June 2008 – A new postage stamp, the first of its kind ever issued in Armenia, was launched here yesterday. This stamp will not only get a letter sent to its intended recipient, but will also publicize the issue of neonatal mortality in an effort to reduce infant deaths worldwide.

UNICEF will receive $.10 from the sale of each stamp. A local postal service, HayPost, will provide UNICEF with advertising space in its 900 post offices throughout the country, a crucial element for the success of the campaign.

“We hope that this campaign will attract strong public attention and much-needed additional funds to stamp out the problem of neonatal mortality in Armenia,” said UNICEF Representative in Armenia Sheldon Yett.

The stamp was officially launched in a ceremony in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of high-ranking Armenian officials, representatives of international organizations and children.

Child survival a primary focus
UNICEF has been working hard to keep neonatal mortality a primary focus of the Armenian Government and public. By mobilizing its resources and collaborating with various actors in the public and private sectors, the organization is already making gains.

In the past five years, Armenia has shown tangible progress in reducing infant and child mortality rates. But further reductions are needed, as roughly 21 infants per 1,000 live births die before their first birthday Most of these deaths occur during the first 28 days of life.

The statistics also mask wide economic disparities. Infant mortality rates in wealthy households are far less than those in poorer households, and Armenia’s rural areas lack the qualified staff and basic equipment needed to provide sufficient antenatal and neonatal care.

“While Armenia has made good progress in meeting Millennium Development Goal 4, which calls for a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015, it is essential that all segments of the population benefit from these improvements in child survival rates,” said Mr. Yett.

‘Buy Five, Help Save a Life!’
In early 2008, HayPost approached UNICEF with the idea of issuing a joint stamp dedicated to children and based on a child’s drawing. UNICEF and HayPost began their large-scale fundraising and advocacy campaign for saving newborns under the slogan, ‘Buy Five, Help Save a Life!’

© UNICEF Armenia/2008
An advocacy and fundraising stamp initiated by UNICEF along with the Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communication and HayPost aims to stamp out neonatal mortality.

“UNICEF is the world’s leading children’s organization. HayPost, in turn, places a high priority on social responsibility, and the need to help address outstanding issues in this society,” said the General Director of HayPost, Hans Boon. “We want to put a special emphasis on meeting the needs of children, as children are the future of any society.”

In February 2008, UNICEF announced the stamp-drawing contest with the theme, ‘A World Fit for Children’. Over 600 children, most of them with special needs or living in institutions, submitted their drawings for the contest. Two months later, a special board, operating under the aegis of HayPost and the Ministry of Transport and Communication, selected a drawing by eight-year-old Eduard Shahbazyan from Yerevan as the contest winner.

On the reverse side of his drawing, Eduard wrote: “I drew myself, my mother and my father inside the sun that spreads its warmth and sheds its light on my family. I drew my mother and my father because like the sun they give me a lot of warmth. I wish that children always feel the warmth of their mothers and fathers.”



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