UNICEF Canada

UNICEF Canada

November 26, 2007 09:57 ET

UNICEF Receives $105 Million From Government of Canada for Child Survival in Africa: UNICEF Canada

Catalytic Initiative to save a Million Lives builds on health-care advances

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2007) - The government of Canada announced $105 million in funding to UNICEF today for the international Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives. The Canadian funding will accelerate progress toward saving the lives of children in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, by building the capacity of national health systems to deliver essential primary health care services for children and pregnant women to combat preventable childhood diseases and by supporting community-based education initiatives to inform parents about how best to protect their children from disease and ill-health.

"Canada has been a leader and partner in supporting innovative approaches to the integrated management of childhood diseases at the local level," said Nigel Fisher, President and CEO. "We are delighted that this partnership is being sustained. The results of such investment in child health are concrete and measurable: reduced child death rates, more informed parents and strengthened health systems."

UNICEF will contribute an additional $105 million from its health budget to the initiative.

Working with national ministries of health and other partners, UNICEF will support the training of health workers, immunization, the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malarial artemisinin drugs, the distribution of micronutrients, antibiotics, anti-retroviral medication, community-level health education and other services for saving the lives and protecting the health of mothers, newborns and young children.

In September, UNICEF reported new global figures showing solid progress in assuring child survival. Global deaths of children under five from preventable diseases have reached a record low, falling to 9.7 million per year, down from almost 13 million in 1990.

While lauding the progress made, the deaths of 9.7 million young children annually from eminently preventable diseases are both unnecessary and unacceptable. Of these global deaths, 4.8 million take place in Africa and 3.1 million in South Asia. Not surprisingly, child mortality is considerably higher among children living in underserved rural areas and in the poorest households.

"While we take encouragement from the progress being achieved, there is no room for complacency," added Fisher. "Since the world community has at its disposal the scientific knowledge, the low-cost technologies and proven models of success to ensure healthy childhoods, and to significantly reduce child and maternal mortality rates, it needs to commit the sustained funding necessary to achieve further gains."

The Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives is part of a growing global investment in child and maternal health, building on recent successes and focused on the internationally-endorsed Millennium Development Goal of reducing the 1990 child mortality rate by two thirds by 2015. While Latin America and the Caribbean are on track to meet the goal, in southern Africa hard-won gains in child survival are threatened by the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and by shortage of financing for tried and tested community-focused interventions. Supporting effective maternal and child health services outreach in developing countries is one of the most impactful ways in which Canada and other industrialized nations can target their overseas development assistance (ODA).

In addition to the Government of Canada and UNICEF, partners in the Catalytic Initiative include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the governments of Norway, the United States, Britain and Australia, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

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