UNICEF deputy praises China for 'enormous progress'

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China has made enormous progress for children and women, said Saad Houry, deputy executive director of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) here Friday.

At the 30th anniversary of Cooperation between the UNICEF and the Government of China, Houry said "the progress that China has made for children and women is enormous and internationally recognized."

According to UNICEF statistics, which is a comparison with statistics from 1990, China has enjoyed a two-fold increase in hospital delivery rates, and an increase in ante-natal care coverage to over 90 percent.

China has improved access to drinking water in rural areas and sanitary latrines, reduced child malnutrition, specifically, the proportion of underweight children, by more than half compared to 1990.

China has also increase the percentage of households consuming iodizing salt from below 40 percent in the mid 1990s to 94 percent today, protecting children from the risk of mental deficiencies, said Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF representative to China.

In developing countries elsewhere, some 22 percent of all children of primary school age do not attend school, while in China, the net enrolment ration is over 99.5 percent, she said.

Houry attributes the progress that China has made largely to the investment in children, primarily in health, education and nutrition.

He put China's implementing of the National Plan of Action for Children, China's improving of women's status, as "best practices," which are suitable for sharing with other developing countries.

The All-China Women's Federation Deputy Chairwoman Huang Qingyi said China has 310 million people under the age of 18, the largest population in the world. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to work related to children.

Meanwhile, Yin Yin Nwe gave a list of challenges that face children and women in China, which involves disparities in health outcomes between western provinces and coastal provinces, senior secondary education, malnutrition, anaemia, and the HIV-AIDS pandemic.

Qiu Hong, assistant minister of commerce, said in the past 30 years, China and the UNICEF have carried out seven terms of cooperation which is effective and covers all the children and women in China.

By the end of 2008, the UNICEF has provided more than US$495 million of non-reimbursable assistance for about 150 projects in fields such as child hygiene, children's basic education, and water and environment hygiene, she added.

(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2009)

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