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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman on World Health Day, 2009

2009-04-06

NEW YORK, 7 April 2009 - “The critical importance of healthcare to emergency response is the theme for this year’s World Health Day 2009. The annual day commemorates the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The impact of man-made and natural disasters falls disproportionately on women and children. Where healthcare systems have been disrupted by disasters, children are at greater risk of disease.

“When emergencies become more protracted and complex, the prospects for disease increase and the proportion of children reached through health interventions decreases.

“The primary health conditions that cause children’s deaths in emergency situations remain much the same as they are where there is no emergency – measles, malaria, diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections.

“However their incidence and their effects are compounded by nutritional deficiencies that are another consequence of emergencies, and by reduced access to health systems and treatment.

“The health of women and children must be a primary consideration, and their needs assessed, in every emergency response.”

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.