UNICEF and New Zealand government sign NZ$7 million partnership to improve children’s health in the Pacific

16 April 2018

SUVA, 16 April 2018 – Today, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) signed a NZ$7 million agreement to support the prevention and reduction of newborn mortality in Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The ceremony was attended by H.E. Mr Nikenike Vurobaravu, High Commissioner of the Republic of Vanuatu, and H.E. Mr. John Patteson Oti, High Commissioner of the Solomon Islands in Fiji, and Acting Head of Mission of the Republic of Kiribati, Mr David Teaabo, with partners committing to support health interventions in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to help prevent and reduce newborn mortality and create conditions in which children can thrive.   

“We welcome this partnership with MFAT to help realize the rights of children in the Pacific and to ensure every child has access to quality health care and nutrition. The Government of New Zealand has shown admirable leadership in prioritising support for the health and wellbeing of children,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative.

With the support provided by MFAT, UNICEF will work together with the Governments of Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to improve child health policies, provide better early health services such as newborn care, immunisation and nutrition and stronger health promotion at a community level to increase awareness of, and improve practices that pose risks to child health. 

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Fiji, Mr Jonathan Curr, at the ceremony, said that tackling the impacts of child poverty is a priority for the New Zealand Government at home. The partnership with UNICEF is an example of expanding that commitment into the Pacific, by promoting some of the fundamental elements of child health – nutrition, immunization and community support.

Nearly 1,700 children under five years of age died in the Pacific in 2016.  More than 80 per cent of those children died within their first year of life and half of those children died in their first 28 days. One cause for concern is childhood stunting, or shortness for age.

In addition to supporting targeted interventions in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the “First 1000 days” partnership will support a more expansive intervention in child immunisation across eleven Pacific Island countries, including Fiji, helping to improve child health outcomes throughout the region.

Photos signing ceremony:

https://weshare.unicef.org/Share/a1pr614q8ac26fev4qv1c55a6urijea6

Photos available here:

Kiribati:

https://weshare.unicef.org/Share/221315s32utp17rdorlk4e1tmj2jicwi

Solomon Islands:

https://weshare.unicef.org/Share/2r3rg4s45803dot1rdd2td62l11b3478

Vanuatu:

https://weshare.unicef.org/Share/p64217l53m761ck27f160au5bi2idg44

Media contacts

Cate Heinrich
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 992 5606

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/

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