UNICEF Plan To Curb Infant Mortality In India

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New Delhi, Jun 3 (UNI) The government today signed a new five-year action plan with the United Nations Children's Fund intended to tackle ''the most pressing problems impacting the survival and well-being'' of Indian children, it was announced.

The Fund ''commits to raising 512 million dollars for this five-year programme of cooperation in India,'' it said in a statement after the signing.

The Action Plan 2008-2012 will be implemented in 15 states and focus on reducing India's infant mortality and maternal mortality rates, undernutrition, quality education, safe water and sanitation and child protection.

India has set itself National Development Targets to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals and Indian officials acknowledge that the pace ''needs to be accelerated'' to meet many of these targets.

''If the world is to achieve the MDGs, it is imperative that India achieve the MDGs,'' the statement quoted Fund's Officer in India Ann Hasselbalch as saying.

The Fund statement cited India's ''impressive economic growth'' over the last few years as well as significant progress in social development, with the proportion of the population below the poverty line ''gradually decreasing.'' A Fund spokesman, Alistair Gretarsson, also cited government data that the percentage of population below poverty line declined from 32.4 to 25.7 between 1993-94 and 2004-05 respectively.

India is home to around one fifth of all the world's children and the Action Plan is guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international and regional conventions.

Hasselbalch said the new Action Plan ''is designed to help India achieve its goals and ensure that no child is left behind as India moves forward.'' UNI MJ AM RAI2024

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