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Guarding Children’s Interests

The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) pledged to help China be more successful in contributing to global profits for children.

“All the things that China does through its own example and through regional and global cooperation help the cause of children everywhere,” said Edwin Joseph Judd, UNICEF’s area representative for China and Mongolia in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

China put into place an effective national mechanism known as the National Programs of Action for Children and Women in 1992 as follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children. UNICEF supported China in implementing the program under a Master Plan of Operation which is renewed every five years.

Judd views this program as an expression of national priorities regarding children.

By the end of last year, 20 of the 24 goals of the program had been achieved, resulting in 14 million fewer Chinese children under five being malnourished than were recorded in 1990.

By 1999, 42 million fewer adults were illiterate, 242 million more people had access to safe water and almost 122 million more households were using iodized salt in their cooking than in 1995.

Other achievements made by China over the decade include the eradication of polio through a nationwide immunization program and the increase of school enrolment by 32 million.

The other four goals unaccomplished were the prevention of HIV, a reduction in maternal mortality, a reduction of anemia and the elimination of neonatal tetanus, which Judd said the Chinese government is still vigorously working on.

The Chinese government and UNICEF signed their joint Master Plan of Operation for 2001-05 this January, renewing their co-peration, which dates back to 1981.

The new cooperation program plans to build on the success achieved over the past decade while also addressing new emerging challenges such as HIV/AIDS, the safeguarding of the rights of children and especially those of girls, the trafficking of children and women and the problems faced by migrant populations as well as the disparities between urban and rural areas.

In particular, UNICEF will support China’s efforts to extend the coverage of its services in remote rural areas, according to Judd.

UNICEF is working to help make access to iodized salt universal throughout China, he said.

Over 90 percent of edible salt in China is iodized. UNICEF will also help fully implement China’s basic education law by 2010, particularly in the western areas of the country, he added.

Turning to China’s role in regional co-operation regarding children, Judd said that China plays a “very important role” in promoting the interests of children.

Eight Asian countries gathered together to examine and look at ways to assure universal salt iodization last October in Beijing.

China is working with Thailand, Vietnam and other countries in the Mekong area on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the prevention of trafficking in children and women, Judd said.

China is also a leading advocate of the rights of girls to receive an education, he added.

(China Daily 04/16/2001)

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