Remarks by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, at the launch of the Every Woman Every Child Progress report

delivered on her behalf by Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director for Programmes

25 September 2020

NEW YORK, 25 September 2020 – “Good morning, everyone. On behalf of everyone at UNICEF, it’s a pleasure to join our partner to launch this report.

“The report is a reality check. A reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.

“Our progress has been impressive.

“Since the launch of Every Woman Every Child, more than one billion children have been vaccinated.

“Under-five deaths are at an all-time low.

“Coverage of immunization, skilled birth attendants and access to safe drinking water reached over 80 per cent.

“Under five HIV infections have fallen by half.

“And 25 million child marriages have been prevented.

“All thanks to the many partners working under the Every Woman Every Child umbrella — from the Secretary-General, to our agency and civil society partners, to the governments and donors supporting our work.

“When we add these achievements to those in other areas critical to children’s lives — like child nutrition and education — the picture becomes clear: together, the world is heading in the right direction when it comes to child and maternal health and survival.

“The right direction. But at the wrong speed. Because our progress has been imperfect. Uneven. And not fast enough.

“Every 13 seconds, a newborn baby dies. Every hour, 33 women die during childbirth. And one million adolescents die each year from preventable causes.

“We must accelerate. We must do better. And we must do more — especially in those areas where over 80 per cent of these deaths are concentrated — sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“While these trends pre-date the pandemic, we must face the fact that COVID-19 has added a new urgency to our work.

“The pandemic has put health systems under enormous strain. Millions of women and children are facing disruptions in routine services for immunization, disease treatment, and ante and postnatal care.

“In short — we must use this moment and this report as a rallying cry to every country to invest in women and children’s health. To re-imagine health systems that can truly reach every woman and every child, no matter who they are or where they live.

“First — UNICEF calls on world leaders to make bold investments in primary health care systems at the community level. Women and children must be able to access the services they need, where they live. These investments and actions will also bring us one step closer to our shared goal of universal health coverage. An essential ingredient in a better, fairer and healthier world.

“And second — these investments in health systems must also be matched by equally bold investments in all of the systems that support good health. Water, sanitation and hygiene. Nutrition and food systems. Education. Mental health. And social protections to help families make ends meet and invest in their families.

“The report we’re launching today shows that recovery, resilience and progress in health is possible.

“When we work together and help spark the political will to invest in the systems that support people’s health, we can drive achievements like the ones listed in this report.

“UNICEF stands ready to lend our expertise, experience and global reach across more than 190 countries to this important work.

“We look forward to continuing this journey together, and reimaging health systems that can truly support every woman and every child. Thank you.”

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UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 476 1537

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