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In This Newsletter Winter 2003

Steering Committee Nominated for Coalition

In November thirteen members of the US Coalition for Child Survival accepted nominations to serve on the newly assembled Steering Committee. Committee members charged with providing leadership to the Coalition and its mission of improving the survival and healthy development of the world's children represent a wide variety of sectors from the child survival community. The following members have accepted a position on the Steering Committee:

  • Al Bartlett, Senior Advisor for Child Health and Nutrition, United States Agency for International Development
  • Michael Bernstein, Co-coordinator, Student Campaign for Child Survival, Global Justice
  • Paurvi Bhatt, Director, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott Laboratories
  • Joanne Carter, Legislative Director, RESULTS
  • Gary Darmstadt, Assistant Professor and Director of Neonatal Health Research and Training, Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Senior Research Advisor Saving Newborn Lives Initiative Save the Children Federation Washington
  • Elizabeth Fox, Senior Technical Advisor, Health Communications, United States Agency for International Development
  • Leslie Gianelli, Director of Public Outreach, Global Health Council
  • Karen LeBan, Executive Director, The CORE Group
  • Susan Maguire, Director of Social Marketing, AED Social Change Group
  • Liz Marmanides, Manager, Outreach & Special Projects, United Nations Association-USA
  • Ray Martin, Executive Director, Christian Connections for International Health
  • David Oot, Director of Health, Population and Nutrition, Save the Children
  • Keith West, Jr., Professor, Program of Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

Originally formed in 1999 to focus attention on the United Nations Special Session on Children, the Coalition initiated a number of activities to highlight U.S. contributions to child survival and the need to maintain high-level support and funding for child saving activities. Following the Special Session, through a consensus agreement of its members, the Coalition reorganized to facilitate the continuation of its work beyond the Special Session.

Today, the Coalition's work is being guided by the Steering Committee which acts both as advisor and implementer of Coalition goals. The group meets on a regular basis to coordinate future activities to advance the child survival agenda. To learn more about the Coalition and its upcoming activities, refer to the Coalition's newsletter and website.

International Workshop to Increase the Visibility of Child Health

An upcoming meeting in Bellagio, Italy aims to develop a new international agenda for reducing child mortality. Beginning 10 February, leading researchers and policymakers from various agencies will participate in a 6-day workshop on child mortality. From the workshop will emerge a series of five technical papers to be published in The Lancet in June 2003. The publications will act as a call to action outlining what must be done to save the world's children.

Workshop participants will discuss the disparity between the international community's ability to address child health issues and the lack of political commitment to provide the necessary resources. The WHO/World Bank/ UNICEF Working Group on Child Health and Poverty is researching ways to overcome the health effects of disparities in income that exist between and within countries. The Child Health Epidemiology Research Group has been developing alternative means to determine the cause of child mortality in order to better promote interventions to be implemented. Focusing on promoting growth and development in addition to combating disease, researchers in the Multi-Country Evaluation of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness have been evaluating programs in the developing world that emphasize holistic child health. Throughout the workshop, policymakers in the areas of epidemiology, large-scale effectiveness evaluations of child health interventions, and equity, will have the opportunity to share and discuss their findings, and discuss experiences and best practices.

A first step in a larger effort, the Bellagio workshop aspires to increase the visibility of child health on the global public health and development agendas. Although the number of seats at the Bellagio workshop is strictly limited, a number of additional meetings involving a broader group of technical experts, donors, and policymakers are being planned for the coming six months.

Student Campaign for Child Survival

On the weekend of November 15-17th, 2002, approximately 100 students representing 30 universities nationwide attended "Child Survival - The Need for Action", a leadership and training conference that officially launched the Student Campaign for Child Survival (SCCS). The group, an extension of the Global Justice network, is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting better policies regarding child survival as part of a broader global justice agenda.

participants at the leadership and training conference

The weekend started with a presentation by Shepard Forman of the Center on International Cooperation; Forman educated students on the pressing need for such a campaign by putting their efforts into the context of a larger movement for greater American global engagement. Saturday continued to build upon the previous day's events. Al Bartlett of USAID gave a technical briefing on common illnesses and the historical U.S commitment to child survival. The day ended with a panel of social activists who emphasized just how crucial students can be in creating social change. Over the course of the weekend, students engaged in workshops focusing on media, advocacy, and local organizing techniques to prepared them to carry the message back to their campuses and begin local chapters. During the final day of the conference a plenary session resulted in the approval of a national platform and election of a national Coordinating Committee before concluding with a moving speech by Marty Rendon of The US Fund for UNICEF.

The Student Campaign for Child Survival will be bringing its messages to Capitol Hill as part of an Advocacy Day scheduled during the First Annual Spring Conference, March 7th-10th in Washington, D.C.

Visit the Student Campaign for Child Survival website.

UNA-USA's Work on Global Health Continues With a New Campaign

UNtold Story: Working for Children's Health

In the spring of 2001, UNA-USA set out to deliver to American communities a message on global health, the local-global connection, and the respective roles of the United States and the United Nations in the global health agenda. The message highlighted the importance of U.S. involvement in a successful global health strategy. UNA-USA stressed that the U.S., working in conjunction with the U.N., health, and international aid organizations could significantly impact efforts to fight infectious disease and improve health conditions worldwide.

This program's ultimate objective is to highlight the positive impact that the work of the United Nations and its partners has on global health efforts worldwide. Working at the grass-roots level with its 175 chapters and 25,000 members, UNA-USA has helped to increase awareness of global health conditions, and of successful initiatives by the U.N. and its private and public partners to slow the spread of infectious disease and improve life expectancy in poorer nations.

The UNtold Story: Working for Children's Health campaign continues this important work. Eighty percent of the U.N.'s work deals with the social and economic status of the world's citizens. Children's health is at the top of this agenda, and the U.N. has made great strides in supporting local and national efforts to improve the health outlook for the world's children. The UNtold Story campaign will bring these UN successes to the forefront, showing that success is possible, and illustrating the need for continuing collaboration on behalf of the world's children through the vital leadership of the United Nations.

UNA-USA will utilize global children's health as the vehicle to tell the "U.N. story" through a series of messages, including:

  • Children's health challenges are international in scope and impact millions of children worldwide.
  • All U.N. member states--including the United States--have committed to placing children's health at the top of the international agenda, through the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals and the Promoting Health Lives agenda (agreed upon a the United Nations Special Session on Children).
  • The United Nations, its agencies and partners have demonstrated significant successes in monitoring these issues, strategizing for a global response, and coordinating programs that have a direct benefit on children worldwide.
  • For these U.N. successes to continue, the United States must remain fully engaged in the work of the United Nations, and play a leadership role in multilateral initiatives that respond to global health crises.

The UNtold Story campaign will focus on three children's health issues that are cited in either the Millennium Development Goals or the Promoting Healthy Lives agenda, examples of children's health challenges that the U.N. has demonstrated success in battling, and resonate with Americans. Taking into account the above criteria, the three issues are: vaccines & immunizations, infant & child mortality, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

The Campaign's goals to Communicate, Collaborate, Educate, and Advocate will only be achieved through the involvement of all types of Americans: from nurses to teachers, social workers to business leaders, professors to mothers. We all have a stake in the health of our children. The United Nations is leading the global effort for a healthier world. The U.N.'s successes must continue. The UNtold Story campaign will raise American awareness of the importance of a greater U.S. role in the global health effort on behalf of children.

To learn more about the UNtold Story: Working for Children's Health campaign, please contact at UNA-USA at .

The State of the World's Children 2003 Report

In December 2002, UNICEF released The State of the World's Children 2003. The flagship annual report focuses on child participation in shaping policy- it is a reminder to adults to seek and consider the voices of children when discussing children's issues.

"In a world wounded by conflict and divided by poverty it is absolutely essential that children be embraced, listened to, and given a role in crafting a better future for themselves, " said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. The State of the World's Children 2003 reflects the opinions of a base sample of 40,000 children from four continents over the past three years. According to the report, tens of millions of children around the world have become wary of political institutions and do not view government leaders as role models. "Through these findings, children have told us something very important about the values they are growing up with," Bellamy said.

The report draws on the outcome document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, held in May 2002. In the document, the world's leaders committed to provide a world fit for children - by listening to children and ensuring their participation.

Included in The State of the World's Children 2003 are arguments for child participation and suggestions on how to encourage and enable children to make their views known. In the Special Topics section, children, as photographers, share their observations of the world through their eyes.

The report states, "Children and adolescents have proved that when they are involved, they can make a difference in the world around them. They have ideas, experiences and insights that enrich adult understanding and make a positive contribution to adult actions."

The report can be accessed on the UNICEF website.

Report on Maternal and Child Health Resolution 2002

During the 107th Session of Congress, a resolution that drew attention to the need to increase the US funding for global programs that improve child survival and maternal health was introduced. Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Connie Morella (R-MD) introduced H.Con.Res. 404 in the House of Representatives on May 14, 2002 and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced S.Res. 275 in the Senate on May 23, 2002. The purpose of the resolution was to increase awareness among members of Congress about these critical global health programs.

The resolution was introduced in February of 2002, in response to the FY 2003 budget released by President George W. Bush, which significantly reduced funding for maternal and child health as well as infectious diseases. As with all legislation that has not been approved, the resolution "died" at the end of the session of Congress. At this time, Congress has not completed action on the FY 2003 budget but advocates were able to restore the funding cut that was recommended by the President to the child survival and maternal health programs in the bill that is currently being debated. It is expected that a final FY 2003 budget will be approved in mid-February.

On February 4th, President Bush will be releasing his budget proposal for FY 2004. It is expected that this budget will also include a cut to the maternal and child health programs in order to make room for a significant increase that will be provided to his Global AIDS initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Coalition will be calling on you to assist them in determining a funding recommendation in FY 2004 and to take action at appropriate times in the budget cycle. By writing letters to members of Congress, contacting opinion leaders, and discussing this issue with our colleagues, we can make a difference. As we progress through the budget process, we will keep you apprised of developments and how you can help.

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This newsletter published by the US Coalition for Child Survival.