PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has been paid a courtesy visit by Dr Zelalem Taffesse, Chief of UNICEF Solomon Islands Field Office on Monday at the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC).
In their meeting Dr Taffesse briefed the Prime Minister on the work of UNICEF in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), heath, education and child protection sector; as well as plans for continued support in the next five years.
“We are pleased to be supporting the Government and people of Solomon Islands in these areas to ensure that our children have the best possible environment to realize their potential and achieve their life’s goal and aspiration,” he said.
Dr Taffessealso used the opportunity to call for support towards the Pasifika Call to Action for Early Childhood adopted by 15 pacific island countries including Solomon Islands.
The “call to action” represents a unified vision for holistic development of young children, recognize parents, families and communities are critical to early childhood development and that investments in ECD are vital for individuals and societies to reach their full potential.
“Across the region, an alarming 70% of 3-5 year olds do not have access to pre-primary or preschool education.
“An average of 25 children for every 1000 live births die before reaching the age of five. Around 38.3 percent of children in the Pacific are stunted,” Dr Zelalem said.
He went on to explain the benefits of investing in Early Childhood Development from child development, economic and social and cultural benefits.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Houenipwela has acknowledged the continued support of UNICEF, stating that the Government will continue to work closely with UNICEF and other development and donor partners to ensure that children have access to basic health and education services.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged that there are challenges in terms of delivery of goods and services notably the very high cost of logistics, getting goods and services to our people who live in remote and rural areas across the country.
He also expressed that through information sharing, experiences and lessons learnt we can better improve in addressing the needs of our people especially our children.
The Prime Minister further stated the government’s commitment in seeing that this is fulfilled and also appreciates and acknowledge the support rendered by UNICEF.
Other issues discussed during the meeting include high rate of open defecation, safety and protection of women and children and stunting among children.
– PMO Press