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Africa Marks Day Of The African Child

In Africa, “[t]housands” of children participated in activities in observance of the Day of the African Child, IRIN reports.

Liberia’s Ministry of Gender transported 1,000 children to events in northwest Lofa County. IRIN writes, “In an effort to improve access to health care and slash neonatal deaths, Liberia’s government suspended health care fees in 2007. The recent UNICEF-Save the Children report named Liberia as one of the few sub-Saharan African countries on target to meet its child health goal by 2015” (IRIN, 6/16).

The Kenyan government “launched an eight-year strategy aimed at delivering efficient and effective services to improve the lives of women and children,” IRIN reports. Beth Mugo, the minister for public health and sanitation, said the Child Survival and Development Strategy 2008-2015 “aims at contributing to the reduction in health inequalities and reversing the downward trend in health-related indicators with a focus on child survival and development.”

According to IRIN, Kenya has “one of the highest numbers of newborn deaths in Africa,” with a neo-natal mortality rate of 33 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is about 43,600 deaths every year. Sanjiv Kumar, the head of UNICEF in Kenya, and David Okello, the WHO’s country director for Kenya, both discussed the need for the program to be implemented effectively. Okello said the strategy “is long overdue; we have some of the best paediatricians in Kenya; we know what to do, the problem is, how do we implement these strategies? These strategies are the same that have been adopted regionally; we need to implement them nationally and take them to scale” (IRIN [2], 6/16).

Sierra Leone’s ministry of social welfare, gender and children’s affairs in collaboration with Save the Children, UNICEF and other partners recently organized a “one-day national children’s conference” in the capital of Freetown to “motivate children to actively participate in working for their survival in their respective communities,” the Concord Times/allAfrica.com reports.

“While acknowledging the strides made in addressing the issue of child survival in the country, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are far from reaching one of the goals of [U.N. Millennium Development Goals] which calls for reduction in the rate of infant mortality by 2015,” said Jenneh Kandah, the deputy minister of social welfare (Massaquoi, Concord Times/allAfrica.com, 6/16).

VOA News reports that as part of the commemoration for the Day of the African Child, the African Union “launched a new initiative to combat human trafficking on the continent.” Tuesday’s launch came on the same day the U.S. “added six more African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in humans,” according to VOA News (Butty, VOA News, 6/17).

Headlines From Other Day Of The African Child Coverage Appear Below:

USAID Report Shows Decline In Child Deaths Globally

USAID on Tuesday marked Day of the African Child with a report that highlights a decline in global child deaths from 15 million per year in the 1980s to 9.2 million deaths in 2008 because of the agency’s contributions and global partnerships with host countries, other “donors, non-governmental, faith-based and community organizations, the private sector” and the U.N.

Since USAID and UNICEF launched an effort to combat child mortality twenty years ago, “the American people, through USAID, have committed $6 billion in support of child survival programs in more than 80 countries,” according to a USAID release. Gloria Steele, the agency’s acting assistant administrator, said that Americans “can be proud that tens of millions of children are alive and healthy because their tax dollars were wisely and compassionately used abroad.” She added, “The challenge now is to build on these successes to save the remaining millions of children who are dying needlessly” (USAID release, 6/16).