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Ten Million Children Die annually before 5th birthday - UNICEF Rep

Jun 2, 2008, 5:44 AM | Article By: By Nfamara Jawneh & Njie Baldeh

The UNICEF Country Representative, Ms. Min-Whee Kang, has revealed that every year nearly ten million children die in the world due to preventable diseases. Most of these children are in sub-Saharan Africa. She added that one in every six children dies before their fifth birthday. Sub-Saharan Africa still remains the most difficult place for a child to survive.

UNICEF country chief made these remarks last Thursday at Sheraton Hotel in Brufut at the launch of the UNICEF's State of the World Children Report 2008.

The theme for this year is Child Survival.She justified the theme by saying that if one didn't survive nothing else counts. Madam Kang called the need for a collective purpose on the matter. "We need to exonerate progress if we are to achieve the MDG's four set targets". The UNICEF country chief lamented that every day, on average, more than 26,000 children under the age of five die, mostly from preventable diseases. She said that Sheraton Gambia Hotel is a member of the Starwood Group, which is UNICEF's global corporate partner. She acknowledged the valuable support her office receives from the group. "One challenge now is to act with a sense of purpose and urgency."

Coming back to The Gambia, Madam Kang acknowledged the significant achievements registered but added that more needs to be done. Ms Kang noted that child survival is not only a human right but and imperative saying it is also a development imperative. "Investing in the health of children and their mothers is a sound economic decision and one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future," she said.

The first lady Madam Zaineb Jammeh, who presided over the occasion, expressed her pleasure in presiding over the event.

Madam Jammeh, who pledged her support for children, was also presented with a resolution known as "Gambia called to Action on Child Survival" by a child participant called Ndey Basin Jobe, a pupil of Serre Kunda Lower Basic School.

Ms. Chinwe Dike, the UN Residence Co-ordinator, said that when there are no children there would be no future. She stressed that half of the world's children who perished in the 21stcentury do so because of malnutrition. "The future of this country and the world depends on the children" she noted.

Dr. Malick Njie, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare, said that every year UNICEF prepares a comprehensive report on the state of the world's children. He stressed that children must be protected from trafficking and all other forms of abuse. He said that the government of The Gambia has made significant achievements in child survival. He expressed optimism on the attainment of the four MDG's by The Gambia. The MDG's aim to reduce the global rate of infant mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.

The report highlights child mortality as a sensitive indicator of any country's development. The report also states that far more needs to be done to increase access to treatments and means of prevention, so the devastating impact of pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, severe acute malnutrition and HIV can be addressed.

The occasion was graced by secretaries of state, members of the National Assembly, including the speaker Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay, diplomats, and other dignitaries.