MALAWI


STATEMENT

BY

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN C. MALEWEZI
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI
 

AT THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN
 

NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY, 8 MAY, 2002


 
 

. Your Excellency, Mr. President,
. Secretary General of the United Nations,
. Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
. Distinguished Adult and Child Delegates,
. Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.    I would like to begin by conveying congratulations to you Mr. Secretary General from my President His Excellency, Dr. Bakili Muluzi for convening this Special Session on Children after the terrorist atrocities of September 11th 2001 that killed thousands of innocent people of many nationalities. The Malawi Government condemns all acts of violence and terrorism. Mr. Secretary General, we in Malawi commend you for your commitment to the cause of children. I would also like to thank Ms. Carol Bellamy and her colleagues for their untiring efforts in the preparation of this General Assembly.
 

Mr. President,

2.    The Malawi Government is fully committed to creating a world fit for children and has consistently prioritised children in actions at the national and international levels since the World Summit for Children in New York in 1990.
 

Mr. President,

3.    Malawi has also campaigned for the Global Movement for Children, and we reaffirm our commitment to encouraging the participation of children and young people in all decisions affecting their lives.

4.    The Outcome Document addresses all issues that are crucial to socio-economic development and the rights of the child. We fully endorse all articles of this document and are committed to undertaking all necessary actions to translate this vision into reality.
 

Mr. President,

5. The Malawi Government is committed to promoting healthy lives and has increased budget allocations to health over the past eight years.

6. There has been notable success in the area of immunization. Malawi has maintained immunization coverage of 75 percent for all antigens for over eight years and we are comitted to ensuring that these successes are not reversed. There has been no confirmed polio case since 1992. Measles is virtually eliminated with no confirmed cases in 2000 and 2001 and the World Health Organization has declared Malawi to be measles free. Additionally, neonatal tetanus has been virtually eliminated. Malawi's commitment to immunization has been recognized by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and we introduced the new pentavalent vaccine in January 2002.

7. Despite the above successes, we still face many challenges in Maternal and Child Health. Maternal mortality has almost doubled over the past decade. The nutritional status of children shows no appreciable change since 1992 with nearly half of our children chronically malnourished or stunted in growth. Acute malnutrition or wasting remains at 5 to 6 percent of the under-five children. Rates of malnutrition have increased recently due to the severe food crisis that Malawi faces. While the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) is giving priority to these issues, we appeal to the donor community to support Government's efforts to promote household level food security by increasing smallholders' access to yield-increasing technologies and by increasing food aid in the next agricultural season.
 

Mr. President,

8.    We recognize that education is a basic human right, a key factor in reducing poverty and in promoting democracy, tolerance and development. The Government has consistently increased the share of education in the national budget, prioritising primary education. The introduction of Universal Free Primary Education (FPE) in 1994 was a landmark achievement of the new Government. As a consequence, enrolment increased from 1.9 million to 3.4 million in 1995. Government has also expanded access to secondary education and prioritises the girl child in access to secondary education by offering scholarships to all girls in secondary schools.

9. The sudden increase in enrolment following the introduction of free primary education put severe pressure on facilities, and the number of teachers. Classrooms were overcrowded with one teacher teaching on average 140 pupils. Since there were inadequate qualified teachers, we had to recruit a large number of untrained teachers. These factors negatively impacted on the quality of education. We are addressing the issues of quality in primary education through increased investment in teacher training, teaching and learning materials and investment in infrastructure but progress is constrained by the very high rate of attrition of teachers due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

10. We have introduced Life Skills into the Primary School Curriculum to ensure that all children and young people are informed about HIV/AIDS and are better equipped to avoid risky behaviour and reduce their vulnerability.
 

Mr. President,

11. Malawi established a Child Rights Unit in the Human Rights Commission in 1999 and is committed to protecting children from abuse, violence and exploitation. The Law Commission of Malawi has begun its review of existing legislation to ensure conformity with international human rights standards, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Malawi has also implemented a number of measures for children in need of special protection. Malawi is signatory to all ILO Conventions pertaining to the abolition of child labour, and national legislation has been enacted to regulate the minimum age for employment.
 

Mr. President,

12. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a global emergency and a key threat to achieving the goals set out at the World Summit for Children and the Millennium Development Goals. The HIV/AIDS pandemic will kill more people in Africa than all the casualties of all the wars of the 20th Century combined and will create 40 million orphans by 2010 if no action is taken. AIDS has a uniquely devastating impact on development and is at the centre of a global development crisis. Addressing the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other principal communicable diseases must be part of a unified response that should be moved to a war footing. The fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases requires our energies, our unity and full commitment, but in addition, we need resources commensurate with the scale of disaster threatening our future. Unless we make this global commitment now, all our efforts on behalf of children will be undermined.

13. Keeping the youth HIV free is the key challenge facing world leaders.

14. Young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but they are also the leaders of today and can be the most powerful movement in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
 

Mr. President,

15. While the Malawi Government is fully committed to implementing all strategies outlined in the outcome document, this will require a significant increase in resources from the international community. Additional resources can be provided through the following ways:

i)    Faster and deeper debt relief will release money to fund poverty reduction programmes;

ii)    The international community should fully finance the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria;

iii) The international community should implement all recommendations from the recently released Macro Economic Commission on Health;

iv) The international community should increase aid levels to 0.7 percent of GDP and increase the proportion of aid that is targeted to the poorest countries; and

v) National Governments should allocate at least 15 percent of their budgets to health.
 

Mr. President,

16. We have the technologies to make the world fit for our children. We need to sustain political will to make it happen. The international community made solemn commitments at the Millennium Summit to address poverty. For the sake of our children, lets implement those agreements now.
 

Thank you for your attention.