China: UNICEF head gets first hand look at health and education deficit in Tibet

Carol Bellamy

30 August 2004 – United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy is in Tibet to get a first hand look at the situation of youngsters in western China, a region that is struggling to catch up with the country’s strong economic growth.

The Chinese economic advances which have catapulted hundreds of millions out of poverty are still a distant reality for the western regions of the world’s most swiftly developing nations. Compared to the east, those areas face half the level of rural income, double the rates of child mortality, and, in some districts, five to 10 times the rates of maternal death.

Ms. Bellamy, who travelled to the Shannan prefecture of Tibet yesterday and met with a delegation of health and education officials, was today visiting village households, schools and health facilities in various counties.

Her meetings have focused on UNICEF cooperation in the areas of safe motherhood, basic education and training for teachers and educators. Although the rate of hospital childbirth in Tibet has doubled in the last five years, it is still only 28 per cent of all births.

Ms. Bellamy stressed the need to attend to girls’ education and stressed to combine UNICEF support in health and education in the same communities.

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