I want to thank Tony Lake and UNICEF for their many accomplishments and sustained leadership over the past year. I also wish to express my delegation’s gratitude to you Madam President for your continuing leadership of the UNICEF Executive Board and to the other Bureau members for their important contributions as well.
The U.S Government and UNICEF share a strong commitment to improving global health outcomes. Last year we welcomed UNICEF’s focus on equity, which enables the most vulnerable children in the hardest to reach areas to receive assistance. The United States has accelerated our own activities to assist vulnerable children in line with UNICEF’s new approach. Through a new agreement between USAID and UNICEF, we are expanding our long-standing partnership in three priority areas that will help save millions of lives. First, USAID and UNICEF are aggressively working to increase access to new vaccines designed to protect children against the two leading causes of global child mortality: pneumonia and diarrhea. Second, we are collaborating to end malaria as a major public health problem across sub-Saharan Africa by intensifying current control efforts and extending the reach of malaria interventions to the remaining under-served areas in high burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa. And third, we are investing in measures to eliminate pediatric AIDS by accelerating the scale-up of more effective antiretroviral regimens to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Transparency and accountability across all of the UN remains a top priority for the United States. We remain dedicated to ensuring that the UN funds and programs move urgently to implement full disclosure of all audit, oversight and financial information. We were pleased with UNDP Administrator Helen Clark’s statement last week, and we applaud UNICEF’s renewed commitment to full public disclosure, which Mr. Lake just reaffirmed.
UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS have all recently implemented institutional donor access to audits. At this Board, we look forward to adoption of a decision to simplify access for member states to internal audit reports, as well as to provide similar access to some of our key partners, including intergovernmental donors and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Progress on transparency will complement the great progress UNICEF has already made in the implementation of a strong accountability system, the establishment of an ethics office, and the continuing improvement of the audit and evaluation functions.
As Board Members, we need to join together to meet global challenges. For example, UNICEF is facing a funding shortfall for measles of $53 million for 2012. Outbreaks in Africa that started in mid-2009 and that continue today, together with continued high numbers of measles deaths occurring in India, threaten efforts to achieve MDG4. Major funding gaps resulted in insufficient coverage of the measles-containing vaccine, MCV1, and led to measles outbreaks. Last year, more than 19 million infants and young children, mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia, did not receive MCV1 and therefore remain at risk of dying from the disease. Collectively, we must increase contributions which will assist UNICEF in redoubling its efforts to combat measles.
The Horn of Africa, Madam President, is another critical area in which Board Members must collaborate to assist the world’s most vulnerable children. UNICEF has delivered aid quickly and efficiently under very difficult circumstances. Yet, today more than 12 million people--many of them children--in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti are still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. We must work together to address the food shortages, severe malnutrition, water and sanitation, and urgent medical needs in this region. This famine is expected to spread in the coming weeks, and the rate of severe malnutrition in children is already alarmingly high. The United States has been the top donor in addressing this crisis, but more needs to be done quickly. We urge fellow Board members to increase their contributions to tackle this emergency.
Finally, I’m pleased to introduce Ms. Carmen Lucca Nazario, recently appointed by President Obama as the new U.S. Representative to the Executive Board of UNICEF. We are delighted that she is here today. Ms. Nazario is a social work professor who has worked for many years to meet the needs of children and families through her work at the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Nazario also led USAID’s poverty reduction strategy in Jordan.
I’d also like to welcome Chip Lyons, our newly appointed U.S. Alternate Representative to the UNICEF Board. Mr. Lyons may already be familiar to many of you having previously served as President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and in various positions within UNICEF. He is currently the President of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. I look forward to the wealth of knowledge, commitment and experience that both Ms. Nazario and Mr. Lyons will provide to our delegations at this and future Board meetings.
As always, you will find the United States an active and committed partner in addressing the needs of the world’s children. Thank you so much.
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