UNICEF launches State of the World’s Children 2008 in Guinea Bissau

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Portuguese version of UNICEF’s annual flagship report The State of the World’s Children 2008: Child Survival was launched on 20 March in Guinea Bissau during a ceremony at which the UNICEF Country Representative called on all the officials present to take responsibility for child survival in the country.
The Vice President of the Parliament, parliamentarians, ministers and other government representatives, foreign diplomats, the media, civil society and artists participated in the event.

“It is unacceptable that 200 of every 1,000 children do not reach their fifth birthday. We are dealing with one of the highest under five child mortality rates in the world,” said UNICEF Representative in Guinea Bissau Jean Dricot, quoting from the report.
“Let us unite for the children of this country, all of us, health agents, people from the media, communities, because it is possible to achieve excellent results even with weak social, financial, and political structures.  We can reduce the child mortality rate with clear and well defined strategies, with low and accessible costs and good efficiency.” 

Despite the challenges ahead for child survival in Guinea Bissau, Dricot said there was “a light at the end of the tunnel”.
The results of various vaccination campaigns, against measles in 2006, tetanus in 2007 and 2008, and the distribution of LLITN (Long Lasting Impregnated and Treated Nets) in 2006 and 2007, can have a positive impact and reduce the under five mortality rate.

Minister of Health, Eugénia Saldanha Araújo, was also positive about the future and highlighted the partnership with UNICEF, considering all the community-based health activities throughout the country essential for saving women and children’s lives.
Health Agents from different part of the country were present at the event and received motorcycles, bicycles and Health Kits donated by UNICEF for the ACSD (Accelerated Child Survival and Development) Initiative.

The most recent surveys on child survival in Guinea Bissau are already showing results. According to UNICEF, the percentage of children under five years old sleeping under impregnated mosquito nets rose from 79 per cent to 94 per cent after the distribution of Long Lasting Impregnated and Treated Nets (LLITN), and 90 per cent of pregnant women or those that have delivered in the last twelve months, also sleep under impregnated mosquito nets. 
In addition, the anti-measles vaccination campaign for children between 6 months and 14 years old in 2006 reached 92 per cent of the country.