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    Protection of children in the context of development and population.

    Grant JP

    [Unpublished] [1982]. Presented at the Western Hemisphere Conference of Parliamentarians, 4 December 1982, Brasilia. 11 p.

    In this address to Western hemisphere parlimentarians, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged conference participants from Latin American countries to serve as advocates for the children in their countries by 1) promoting national policies to reduce infant and child mortality through the implementation of oral rehydration therapy and nutrition surveillance programs; 2) encouraging their respective countries to implement and maintain the International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitues; and 3) lending their support to UNICEF's newly proposed programs to help abandoned children. UNICEF's mission is to help the millions of children trapped by proverty. In line with this goal, UNICEF urges the Latin American countries to focus attention on 1) the 20 million Latin American children, aged 0-4 years, living in poverty and at high risk of death, malnutrition, and serious mental and physical disability; and 2) on the 30 million Latin American street children who have either no ties or only weak family ties. In reference to the 1st group of children, UNICEF urges countries which have not already done so to implement low cost oral rehydration therapy and nutritional surveillance programs and to adopt policies which will reverse the trend toward bottlefeeding. These activities cost little and involve little or no political risk, however, they can siginificantly reduce infant and child death rates. Reductions in the death rate will not, as some fear, increases the population growth problem; indeed, the opposite is true. Historically it has been demonstrated that in countries with an overall death rate of 14-15/1000 population, for each subsequent decline in the death rate there is a larger decline in the birth rate. For example, in Brazil between 1960-80 a 5 point decline in the death rate was accompanied by a 13 point decline in the birthrate. In reference to the 30 million street children, UNICEF is currently developing special programs aimed at providing care and training for these children. Institutionalizing street children is costly and does not provide the home-like environment these children require. Innovative programs, such as group homes, children's cooperative villages, and other community based approaches are less costly and provide the type of support these children need to become productive and adjusted members of society. UNICEF is undertaking a cost benefit analysis of these alternative strategies. UNICEF expects to present a proposal at the 1983 session of the Executive Board to develop a major regional program in Latin America to assist street children and to prevent child abandonment. The program will require siginificant financial support and government support if it is to achieve its goals.
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