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UNICEF: So Much Done, So Much More to Do

UNICEF's executive director said yesterday that, while economic growth has helped China solve issues that still threaten children in other developing nations, it still faces many problems, such as childhood injuries and HIV/AIDS.

Carol Bellamy was speaking at a forum in Beijing dedicated to "A Decade of Achievement for Children," and said that vast numbers of children are now out of peril because of successful initiatives against polio and hepatitis B.

She added that there has been an increase in childhood injuries, which UNICEF will seek to help tackle over the next five years, and that there is now "clear recognition on the part of the government that HIV/AIDS is a real problem in China."

Bellamy said greater efforts are needed to ensure an uninfected blood supply and to prevent cross-border transmission of HIV and other infections.

Zhang Liming, deputy director of the Office of the National Working Committee for Children and Women, said that HIV/AIDS is on the increase in China. "With the growing number of women affected by it, more children will become AIDS-related orphans," she warned.

With a population of 367 million under 18 years of age, China still faces huge problems of malnutrition and poor education, increasing disabilities amongst newborns, high gender-ratio inequities, discrimination towards girls and violence towards children.

UNICEF plans to spend US$100 million in China between 2006 and 2010, said Christian Voumard, representative of the agency's local office.

Speaking highly of Bellamy, Fu Ziying, assistant minister from the Ministry of Commerce, said there has been cooperation between China and UNICEF on girls' education, as well as in combating the trafficking of women and children, "on which Bellamy had paid special concern."

Fu also presented her with a US$6.5 million check representing the donation from the government for children in Indian Ocean countries affected by December's earthquake-triggered tsunami.

Bellamy, on her eighth and last trip to China as head of UNICEF, used the occasion to reflect on changes she has witnessed over the last decade. She will step down on April 30 after ten years in post.

During that time, Bellamy has focused UNICEF on five major priorities: immunization, girls' education, protection from exploitation, abuse and violence, HIV/AIDS and welfare in early childhood.

(China Daily February 25, 2005)

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