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Uganda: Improve lives of children to consolidate

Uganda must improve the lives of children to consolidate its progress – UNICEF

Uganda has become a model for development, but must now make a commitment to uphold the rights of the more than 3 million children who remain vulnerable to poverty, disease and insecurity, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said as President Yoweri Museveni’s new Government took over.

Speaking on the occasion of Mr. Museveni’s inauguration to his third term as elected President on Friday, UNICEF Representative in Uganda Martin Mogwanja praised the policies and legislation that had resulted in an increase in primary school enrolment from 3 million in 1997 to 7.3 million in 2005.

He also hailed the “reversal in HIV prevalence from a high of over 20 per cent in 1995 to 6.4 per cent last year, and the rise in immunization coverage, including for measles, to over 80 per cent compared to 40 per cent a decade ago.”

Progress has been less marked, however, in addressing the needs of approximately 3.3 million children living in 19 disadvantaged districts where health, education, safe water and other indicators are consistently lower than averages for the other 50 districts, Mr. Mogwanja said.

Malaria remains the largest single cause of child mortality. High initial enrolment in primary education has not been sustained, with only 27 per cent of girls and 30 per cent of boys completing the primary school cycle, he said.

In the north, the 20-year armed conflict has displaced 1.7 million people, including 935,000 children, from their homes into approximately 230 camp settlements, he said.

Mr. Mogwanja stressed that the installation of the new government offers a chance to take action on fresh ideas to enable the most vulnerable children in the most disadvantaged communities to realize their rights to survive, develop, be protected and to participate in decisions affecting their lives.

UNICEF has received just over two thirds of the $16.8 million for its programmes to benefit Ugandan children this year.

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