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<-Back to WTN Archives Bellamy urges Tibet to reach for new heights for children
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Tuesday, March 9, 2004



4. Bellamy urges Tibet to reach for new heights for children


UNICEF

TSE DANG, TIBET, 31 August 2004 - UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy
today completed two days of visits with families, health clinics and
elementary schools in the Naidung and Chongjie counties. Bellamy got an up
close look at the issues faced at village level in Tibet through numerous
discussions with parents, health workers and teachers. The visit will help
UNICEF and its local government partners to refine their strategies to
reduce the stark disparities that affect much of Western China. UNICEF has
been working with local government in Tibet since 1980.

"There has been much progress for women and children here, but there is
still much work to do to catch up with the rest of China," said Bellamy.
"We need to strengthen preventive health and do a better job of packaging
interventions like education, sanitation and hygiene," she added. Although
there has been significant progress in primary health care in the last
decade, Tibet still has the highest maternal and child mortality rates in
China.

In the last decade, child and maternal death rates in Tibet have dropped by
around half, reflecting enormous gains. Still, child mortality stands at 53
per thousand live births and maternal mortality is over 400 per 100,000
live births, up to eight times higher than the national rate.

The UNICEF China program is mounting intensive efforts to develop with
local government partners new strategies and initiatives to tackle these
disparities over the next five years.

Bellamy focused much of her consultation with village health workers on
expanding preventive health practices versus reliance on curative
measures. "I am impressed to see the amount that the Government has
invested in infrastructure in roads, electricity and ccommunications in
Tibet," she said, "now its essential for the same kind of commitment to go
into empowering families to prevent illness at home and in improving
grassroots healthworker skills."

Tibet, and much of Western China, lag behind the rest of the country in the
use of iodized salt to combat iodine deficiency which reduces IQ by 10-15
points. Household usage of iodized salt in Tibet is 39 per cent while the
rate for China as a whole in over 95 per cent.

Bellamy also visited elementary schools and talked with teachers and
students about the challenges of delivering quality education in such a
vast and sparsely populated province. Tibet is 1.2 million square
kilometers with a population of 2.7 million people. Primary school
enrollment in Tibet is high at 92 per cent considering the geography, but
most children have to complete primary education in boarding schools.

Primary school drop out is estimated at 30-35 per cent mostly in the later
grades. UNICEF is working with local education officials to improve the
quality of teaching and learning in boarding schools while packaging
essential interventions in health, life skills, sanitation and hygiene at
schools.

Bellamy summed up: "We are gratified to see how the government has met the
substantial challenges in basic education, but with the dramatic social
changes coming to China time is running out to help Tibet and all the
Western provinces to catch up."


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Dalai Lama hopeful about Tibetan cause (TI)
  2. Tibetans mark 44 years of Democracy
  3. Tibetan Flag in 1934 National Geographic
  4. Bellamy urges Tibet to reach for new heights for children
  5. Despite Progress, Tibet's Children Still Without Basic Schooling (VOA)
  6. Red star over the Potala palace (IE)



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