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Bringing UNICEF’s equity message to Washington

World leaders recently met at the United Nations to discuss the state of progress on the efforts to implement goals set for 2015 (the Millennium Development Goals) to reduce poverty and disease. As a contribution to those discussions, UNICEF released its “Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals” study. The landmark document advocates that major gains in child and maternal health can be best achieved by focusing programs and resources on the very poorest women and children in the poorest countries. Reaching the poorest of the poor not only is the right thing to do, it is the most effective way to save the lives of millions of vulnerable children and their mothers by 2015.

Martin Rendón is the Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

“In everything we do, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.” – UNICEF’s Mission Statement

World leaders recently met at the United Nations to discuss the state of progress on the efforts to implement goals set for 2015 (the Millennium Development Goals) to reduce poverty and disease. As a contribution to those discussions, UNICEF released its “Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals” study. The landmark document advocates that major gains in child and maternal health can be best achieved by focusing programs and resources on the very poorest women and children in the poorest countries. Reaching the poorest of the poor not only is the right thing to do, it is the most effective way to save the lives of millions of vulnerable children and their mothers by 2015.

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U.S. Fund for UNICEF/Rendón
Dr. Mickey Chopra, UNICEF Chief of Health, and UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake share UNICEF’s equity approach at CSIS.

The conventional wisdom has been that reaching better off, more accessible children is the more cost-effective approach. But the equity strategy argues that because needs are greatest among those harder to reach, the benefits of concentrating on them could outweigh the additional costs of reaching them. In effect, the equity-focused approach improves the return on investments, averting many more child and maternal deaths – and hastening the day when no child dies of preventable causes.

UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake and his global health team came to Washington to share the results of the new UNICEF equity study with Administration officials and World Bank policymakers. They also were invited by the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies to present their findings to advocacy and policy leaders from key non-governmental organizations and think tanks. Click here to watch the presentation.

UNICEF’s recommendations are generating quite a positive buzz in the global health community. But as “Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals” cautions: “Implementing equity-based approaches will require courage, determination and substantial effort. And like most things that are worthwhile, it will be challenging. But given the evidence of this new study and UNICEF’s own experience, it is a challenge that can be met.”

Right now, UNICEF needs your help to secure the funding it needs from the U.S. government to help it meet that challenge. Please sign our petition to urge your Senators and Representatives to complete action on the contribution to UNICEF before Congress adjourns. With your help, UNICEF can carry out its mission to reach the poorest of the poor children and mothers around the world.

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