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Press Centre (1/2008)

2008/01/29 - Lively Ankara launch for UNICEF's flagship report

UNICEF's flagship report, The State of the World's Children 2008, was launched at a press conference in Ankara on January 23, coinciding with similar events taking place in all parts of the globe.
Cover of The State of the World's Children 2008
The State of the World’s Children 2008:
Child Survival
© UNICEF 2008

Child Survival, the theme of this year’s report, is a very sensitive indicator for monitoring a nation’s development, UNICEF Turkey Representative Reza Hossaini told journalists. According to the report, 9.7 million children under five years of age still die every year. While a child in Sierra Leone stands a one–in–four chance of dying in the first five years of life, the odds are just one in 315 for a child in Sweden. There are also major discrepancies within countries.

We have the technology and we have the knowledge and means to put it into practice, but still children are dying every day from easily preventable causes, Hossaini said.

Sound Investment

In his first press conference since he took office in January, Hossaini highlighted the past achievement in reduction of child mortality and the wide existing disparities between different regions of the world. He declared himself optimistic that the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing under–five mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 were achievable, provided there is increased government commitment, improved coordination and collaboration between international, national and local agencies for provision of well focused, integrated basic package of services. For every life saved, moreover, another 3–4 children would be saved from morbidity, disability and malnutrition.

Investment in mother and child health is not only a human rights imperative, but also a sound economic investment, Hossaini underlined.

Turning to Turkey, the Representative suggested that focusing on the newborn will help to achieve further reductions in the child mortality rate. He commended the media on their interest in the launch, which, he said, clearly indicates a commitment to children’s well being.

The Situation in Turkey

Dr Turan Buzgan, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, presented an overview of the situation in Turkey, where economic and social trends and the efforts of the authorities have contributed to a sharp reduction in the child mortality rate. He pointed to the impact of baby–friendly hospitals, increased access to prenatal care and improvements in immunisation rates. He noted, for example, that there had been only three cases of measles in Turkey in 2007.

Deputy Undersecretary Buzgan said that the Government was targeting an infant mortality rate of no more than 15 per thousand by 2013, compared to an estimated 21.6 in 2007. The infant mortality rate refers to children dying before the age of one, who in Turkey account for about 90% of all under–five deaths. He also suggested that the fertility rate would work out at 2.0 in 2008, compared to 2.2 in 2003.


The press conference, at the Hilton Hotel, was jointly organised by UNICEF Turkey and the Health Ministry. Well known TV presenter Tayfun Talipoğlu, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, introduced the speakers, who also included Professor Cevdet Erdöl, the chairman of Parliament’s Health Committee, and Professor Gaye Erbatur, opposition member of Parliament for Adana.

The speakers touched on issues as diverse as the role of fathers in looking after children, the importance of educating girls, violence against women (including pregnant women) and children, early marriage, the government’s social, health and health insurance policies and the recent law restricting the sale and use of tobacco products. Members of Parliament Canan Arıtman and Nevzat Korkmaz also contributed to the discussion.

Prominent among the audience were Turkish National Committee for UNICEF President Dr Talat Halman, Dr. Rıfat Köse, Director General of Mother and Child Health and Family Planning at the Ministry of Health, and Dr. Ruhi Kılıç, Director–General of Special Education, Guidance and Counselling Services and Mr. Necmettin Yalçın Director–General of Non–formal Education at the Ministry of National Education and representatives of various embassies.

What the report says

The State of the World’s Children 2008 contains detailed information about child survival in the various regions of the world. It summarises the lessons learned from evolving health care systems and successful community partnerships. Recommendations include: concentrating on those countries and communities which have the highest child mortality rates and levels; packaging essential services together; strengthening community partnerships; ensuring a continuum of care across the life cycle, and taking a results–oriented approach to health system development. The report also stresses the crucial role of political commitment, leadership and sustained financing.

As every year, the report provides over 40 pages of tabulated data on economic, demographic, environmental, nutritional, health, education, gender and child protection issues which affect the well being of children and women, permitting comparisons between regions and countries.

Read more about The State of the World’s Children 2008.

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org