Leaders at Clinton Global Initiative renew commitments to health and education
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 26 September 2007 – UNICEF has received US$30 million to help educate children affected by conflict, especially in Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as a pledge of $1 billion to improve maternal and child health worldwide.
The contributions were highlighted today at two separate events in New York during the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting organised by the William J. Clinton Foundation to address serious global issues.
The education grant was announced late this afternoon as part of the Clinton initiative’s Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, co-chaired by economist Gene Sperling and actress and advocate Angelina Jolie. “Over 20 million children of conflict are out of school,” said Ms. Jolie. “Education is often forgotten.”
With this support, UNICEF is working with Microsoft, the International Rescue Committee and Hewlett Packard to help 150,000 children through a distance-learning project in conflict areas.
Support for development goals
At a news conference earlier in the day, the Government of Norway unveiled a major pledge to reduce maternal and child deaths.
“These people have done a great thing today,” said former US President Bill Clinton as he announced the commitment in front of a group of world leaders.
Mr. Clinton was referring to Norway’s promise of US$1 billion over the next three years to help meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which aim to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015. The Netherlands has also pledged US$176 million for the effort.
Maternal and newborn health
“Today we launch a campaign to save millions of lives,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference launching the pledge.
Also on hand for the announcement were UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Youdhoyono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan and British Minister of State Mark Malloch Brown.
The new commitment will focus on the survival of newborn babies and their mothers, and will promote increased awareness of women’s and children’s health issues.
Filling ‘a critical gap’
Mr. Stoltenberg said the initiative has the support so far of five presidents and three prime ministers, and will build a network of global leaders – including those from the private sector – to give high priority to women’s and children’s health.
“It fills a critical gap in the health care agenda,” said Mr. Zoellick. “Some aid is short-term and unpredictable, and basic needs have suffered.”
“It’s very important to get added resources,” said Ms. Veneman. “It’s also important to recognise that the right policies are needed to access people in the poorest areas. With strong leadership locally and shared efforts globally – with a collective sense of urgency – we can create a better world for mothers, boys and girls, and generations to come.”
26 September 2007: