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East Asia-Pacific must invest more in children and mothers – UNICEF

East Asia-Pacific must invest more in children and mothers – UNICEF

Despite enormous economic and political progress in East Asia and the Pacific, too many countries there still fail their children in the “national and international disasters” of child malnutrition, maternal mortality, sexual exploitation and HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns in a report released today.

The report, “A Future for all our Children,” issued at an East Asia and Pacific Ministerial Consultation in Bali, Indonesia, urges the region’s governments to pay closer attention to the needs of children and women and invest more in their lives and futures in order to achieve what it calls the “realistic and achievable” goals set by the UN General Assembly’s special session on children in 2002 and the UN Millennium Summit.

“A number (of countries) have emerged from decades of war and civil strife and have laid the foundations for peaceful, democratic societies. Some have achieved almost miraculous levels of economic growth, helping to reshape the global economy,” the report says.

But citing child malnutrition, young mothers dying in childbirth, children’s lives blighted by sexual exploitation, and yet more young people succumbing every day to the HIV virus as “national and international disasters,” the report warns that the harsh reality is that too many countries in the region continue to fail their children.

The issue is as much about effort and commitment as it is about financial resources, the report says, and in some areas the region is on track to achieve targets. The region is “doing well on under-five mortality, but not moving quickly enough on maternal mortality or on clean water supplies, or taking sufficiently firm action to halt the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus,” it states.

“All countries will also need to increase their efforts in education and to ensure gender equality – two vital contributions to achieving all of the targets for women and children,” it adds.