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Experts and leaders gather to discuss reaching the world’s most vulnerable children

NEW YORK, 21 September 2010 – The importance of ensuring that no child is left behind, as the world pushes forward towards the Millennium Development Goals, is the subject of a panel discussion to be held at UNICEF House, New York, tomorrow on the perimeter of the UN’s global three-day summit on the MDGS.

The panel discussion, which will feature Slovenia’s President Danilo Turk, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and Brazil’s Minister for Social Development, Ms Marcia Lopez, Dr. Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and actor Mia Farrow, is being hosted by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and moderated by CNN’s Jim Clancy. 

The event will seek to expand on recent UNICEF data that showed some of the world’s most disadvantaged children are not yet benefitting from progress made to meet the Millennium goals, and on UNICEF’s Narrowing the Gaps study that reveals that focusing on the these children may be the most cost effective way of providing assistance. 

Conventional aid programming has sometimes assumed that aid and assistance should be focused on reaching the maximum number of recipients, rather than seeking out those children who, because of social status, extreme poverty or geographical isolation or gender, are the hardest to reach. The results have been considerable improvements in the lives and prospects of millions of children. 

However data collected from a range of countries and UNICEF’s recent statistical modeling suggests that this may not be the most efficient use of aid going forward. The study showed that aid programmes that use an equity focus to help those children living in countries with low incomes and high child mortality who are at greatest risk may result in some 60 per cent more children’s lives being saved for every million dollars invested.

Great progress has been made in many areas of child survival and development during the Millennium Goals time frame. The global under-five mortality rate has been reduced from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 65 in 2008. In more than 60 developing countries, at least 90 per cent of primary school aged children are in school and each year the lives of an estimated 2.5 million children under five are saved as a result of immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases.

But gender and geography still play a powerful determining role in the prospects of children in developing countries. Children from the poorest communities in those countries are doubly at risk of dying before the age of five. They are at greater risk of the consequences of under-nutrition like stunting, and are far less likely to be registered at birth.

In 2009, one in 7 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before reaching her or his fifth birthday. Of those who survived, only 65 per cent had the chance to go to school. And around the world, girls from the poorest households are three times as likely to get married before age 18 as girls from the wealthiest households.

Panelists are expected to discuss the importance of changing this, from an ethical standpoint and also with a view to delivering the best results for children from aid.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:
Janine Kandel, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1-212-326-7684,




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