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August 2012: Strong commitment to “A Promise Renewed”

LUSAKA, Zambia (UNICEF) – World leaders have been steadfast in their commitment to child survival and well-being – starting in late 1989 with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 1990, the global community united behind the World Summit for Children.

A decade later, world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, which led to the subsequent launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that positioned children at the centre of eight critical targets for human development. In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly passed a landmark resolution to build “A World Fit for Children.”

This sustained commitment to children has contributed to a remarkable decrease in child mortality that is unprecedented in human history. Over the past two decades, the number of under-five deaths has fallen dramatically, from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

Zambia has recorded tremendous progress with under-five mortality falling from 183 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 111 per 1,000 live births in 2010, according to UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children 2012.

Yet, even as the global under-five mortality rates have fallen, the number of child deaths still remains unacceptably high. Every year, millions of children die from causes that we have the power to prevent − and diseases that we have the ability to treat, like measles and diarrhea. The time has come to recommit to child survival and renew the promise to give every child the best possible start in life.

To advance Every Woman Every Child, an initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary-General, partners from the public, private, and civil society sectors are uniting around a clear and compelling goal: ending preventable child deaths by supporting the campaign, “A Promise Renewed.” So far 100 governments and numerous organizations have signed a pledge to increase action and achieve this goal.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia signed the pledge on 27 July 2012 and promised “to take action to accelerate progress on newborn child and maternal survival.” When signing the pledge on behalf of the Government, the Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Hon. Dr. Joseph Katema, MP, said, “Through national action and international cooperation, we pledge to take action to accelerate progress on newborn child and maternal survival.

We hold ourselves accountable for our collective progress towards this goal.” The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Professor Elwyn Chomba, said, “Preventable child deaths are avoidable and unnecessary. The task of reducing poverty and vulnerability has been given to our ministry and we will tackle them together along with reducing child morality.”

The official signing ceremony was also attended by Dr. Susan K. Brems, Mission Director of the US Agency for International Development Zambia, and UNICEF Zambia Representative Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa. Dr. Brems said that USAID was “delighted to partner with UNICEF on A Promise Renewed” and thanked the Hon. Minister for signing the pledge.

“We have the technology, systems and medicine to keep every child safe from preventable diseases and UNICEF applauds Government for joining other nations in rejuvenating its commitment to child survival,” said Dr. Uhaa. “By making this commitment, Zambia has pledged to reduce its under-five mortality to less than 20 by the year 2035. I have no doubt we can do this and I commit that UNICEF will support Government as it moves from its pledge to concrete action.”



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